Thursday’s Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting will mark the first with newly hired town manager Tim Owens in attendance, having officially begun his employment with the town on Tuesday, Jan. 8. A meet and greet will be held prior to the board’s meeting at 5 p.m. at Town Hall.
Owens will quickly be introduced to the various aspects of the implementation of the town’s recently passed smoking ban due to the number of agenda items that revolve around it.
The first of those items involves a presentation from Eagle Scout candidate Andrew Stoycos about his plan to build 18 cigarette butt receptacles to be placed at various beach access locations. Stoycos’ plan states that the receptacles would be constructed of iron casing with caps on both ends and drilled holes where smokers can dispose of their butts.
In addition to constructing the receptacles, Stoycos also plans to conduct a beach-wide educational campaign about the ban on Memorial Day. This campaign would involve placing volunteers from his troop at different beach accesses with signs about the ban and answering beachgoers’ questions.
At Thursday’s meeting the board will be able to provide Stoycos with direction to either carry on with his plan or alter it.
Also pertaining to the smoking ban, the New Hanover County Convention and Visitors Bureau will present its recommendations about properly marketing the ban.
The CVB’s public relations firm, French West Vaughan, stated that there has already been conversation on social media outlets about the ban and that the conversation tends to skew more to the negative. To combat any negative perception of the ban, French West Vaughan recommended using a proactive campaign to increase the public understanding of the positives of the ban, like its environmental and health benefits.
Creating a beach cleanliness video via social media highlighting the benefits of the smoking ban is one of the tactics French West Vaughn recommended, adding that March or April would be the ideal time of year to begin the campaign.
The board will approve or amend these recommendations and provide direction to the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
The third agenda item about the town’s smoking ban to be discussed at Thursday’s meeting concerns the clarification of the area in which the town is able to enforce the ban on the beach strand. At the board’s December meeting, Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti and town attorney John Wessel requested that the board appeal to Representative Ted David Jr. and the rest of New Hanover County’s representatives in the North Carolina General Assembly to introduce a local act clarifying the boundaries.
On Thursday the board will consider approval of the resolution to be presented to the General Assembly during its 2013 session.
In preparation for the start of the 2013 Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market that will begin in May, the board will consider relocating the market from its current location on Old Causeway Drive to the grassy area west of town hall, in front of the old fire station.
In the background documents for the item, interim town manager Tony Wilson stated that the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee unanimously recommended the move due to the opening of several businesses on Old Causeway Drive since the market began in 2009, which has caused parking and pedestrian safety issues to become more of a concern. Also, the space on Old Causeway Drive does not allow for the market to add any new vendors.
In addition, the Wrightsville Beach Foundation will no longer provide financial support to the farmers’ market. The funds donated by the foundation had been used to cover portable toilet costs since 2009. With a move to the town hall campus, the total expense of $1,450 for portable toilets may not be required because the town park has existing restroom facilities.
Following the New Hanover County Commissioners discussion of the same topic at its meeting on Monday, Jan. 7, the board of aldermen will also discuss funding a permanent New Hanover County Sheriff’s department student resource officer at Wrightsville Beach Elementary School.
County commissioners and New Hanover County Schools voted to fund the use of an SRO from the sheriff’s department at seven county schools in unincorporated areas of the county. Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach would each be required to fund officers for the schools within their own corporate limits because they are separate municipalities. Carolina Beach approved its funding this week. The total cost for one SRO through the end of the current school year would be $28,500.