Tree removal started in earnest this week along the east side of South Dogwood Trail in preparation for the concrete sidewalk.

Dear Beacon Readers:

I finally have had a chance to watch the videotape of the Town Council’s regular meeting Tuesday evening and have discovered, much to my chagrin, that my decision to rely upon correspondents and publish news they reported to me was misplaced.

In their defense, I would say that this Town Council meeting was unduly confusing, starting with an appointment period during which Mayor Tom Bennett twice forgot to call votes and haltingly recommended nominations and appointments—at one point, Councilman Conners asked, “Which one did my name pop up on?”—and ending with a convoluted discussion about the Town’s “goals” in its “beach management plan” that I will have to transcribe in order to make sense of it.

The point of “updating” the goals of the beach management plan, as the Council voted unanimously to have APTIM, the coastal engineering consultant, do seems to be to have APTIM sign off on a beach-nourishment project that would involve the entire Southern Shores coastline. In its previous studies, APTIM has exempted a northern area from around Fourth Avenue to the Duck border as not being in need of nourishment—an assessment that did not sit well with very vocal homeowners on Seventh Avenue.

In between the missed votes/confusing appointments and the Mayor’s confusing motion about how APTIM Program Manager Ken Willson is to revise the Town’s “goals” in order to loop Seventh Avenue into any beach fill project it approves was a discussion about an increase in Bay Disposal and Recycling, LLC’s monthly per-household recycling rate that had Town Council members seemingly at cross purposes.

Here again, I will have to transcribe the discourse, especially the comments made by Councilman Matt Neal, who showed he is very contract-savvy.

Bay Disposal is requesting an increase from the agreed-upon June 2018 contract amount of $5.42 per home per month to $7.40 per home per month. This would be an increase, roughly, of $30,000 for the next six months, and is intended to go toward paying increased processing fees that Bay Disposal now incurs.

In other news, Finance Officer/Human Resources Director Bonnie Swain informed the Town Council that she has spoken with the three town-manager search firms that the Town is considering, and all are “very qualified” and “equally qualified.” (The meeting packet shows four choices, the fourth of which is an individual.)

According to Ms. Swain, each firm would charge $20,000 for its service, and each would enable the hiring of a new town manager by late May, if the Town were to execute a contract in January. Town Manager Peter Rascoe stepped down Aug. 16 before his Sept. 1 retirement.

Contrary to what was published in The Beacon yesterday, the Town Council’s decision to table the Planning Board appointment(s) until Jan. 7 was not discussed. No reason was given, and there was no mention made of the applications that the Town has received. Mayor Tom Bennett simply said he wanted to table the appointment(s); Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey quickly made a motion to that effect; Councilman Matt Neal just as quickly seconded it; and the full Council unanimously approved it.

The Mayor did offer a reason, however, for tabling the appointments for the seven-member Capital Infrastructure Improvements Planning Committee. He said that the Council has not yet “gotten the people nominated for two positions.”

In his report as Interim Town Manager, Wes Haskett said the Town would seek “input” from the current CIIP Committee when it meets Dec. 18, at 2 p.m., in the Pitts Center, on “multiple options” that the Town Engineer has offered for street improvement plans on Dewberry Lane.

According to Mr. Haskett, the Town Engineer also has finalized the street improvement plans for the section of East Dogwood Trail between Duck Road and Ocean Boulevard and will be meeting tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center with adjacent property owners to review them.

As you may have noticed, the destruction of trees on South Dogwood Trail, to make way for the five-foot-wide concrete sidewalk on the east side, started Tuesday, and sidewalk construction was to start yesterday, Mr. Haskett said. The target date for completion of the sidewalk is June 1.

Again, I regret the errors published yesterday. I will try to fill in some blanks soon about the beach management plan, Bay Disposal’s rate increase request, and the town manager search.

Thank you.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 12/5/19

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