The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen passed a
series of resolutions concerning Heide Trask Drawbridge at its meeting on
Thursday, Sept. 12.
Those resolutions included one that would enter
into an agreement with the United States Coast Guard to only open the bridge on
the hour during the bridgework construction period. This will be a departure
from the USCG’s normal schedule of opening on every half hour.
Town manager Tim Owens said it should help to
alleviate some traffic issues when the drawbridge is reduced to two lanes in
October for bridgework contractor American Bridge to renovate the northern two
Another bridge resolution passed by the town
supported an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Transportation
into making the Airlie Road and Wrightsville Avenue intersection safer. With
the number of vehicular and pedestrian accidents that have occurred at the
intersection over the years Owens said NCDOT and the City of Wilmington were
both ready to address the issue following completion of the bridgework in
A public hearing concerning the speed limits on and
around the drawbridge and on Salisbury Street was also set for the board's Oct.
10 meeting. Owens said he has heard from NCDOT that it would not need to
conduct much of an investigation to lower the speed limit on the drawbridge to
35 mph because it was already something it wanted to change. However, Owens
also said NCDOT would not consider lowering the bridge speed limit without the
board also voting to lower the Salisbury Street Speed limit to 35 mph to be
consistent throughout the area.
Two Eagle Scout projects were also approved at
the board of aldermen meeting. Zach Batey will install recycled plastic benches
along the soccer field at the WB Park and Jacob Yankey will landscape the area
around the front of the Fran Russ Recreation Center with brick pavers and
drought tolerant plants.
The conceptual budget for the downtown
Wrightsville Beach beautification project spearheaded by the Wrightsville Beach
Foundation would be around $1.7 million, said foundation representative Jim
Smith. John Mihaly of Mihaly Land Design, who has completed all the work thus far
pro bono, developed the concept plans that include a mini park at the North
Lumina Avenue and Stone Street intersection, street side tree plantings along
North Lumina Avenue.
Another one aspect of the conceptual plans is to
bury the power lines along the downtown portion of North Lumina Avenue. If
those power lines were buried Smith said the entire project’s conceptual budget
would be around $1.7 million but that the number would drop to around $1
million if the lines were not buried. Smith also said grant funding would be pursued for the project and that one possible grant would only require a 20 percent match in funds from the town.
Owens said he would present the board with more
definite plans and an overview of the impacts to the existing underground
utilities in the area at the board’s Oct. 12 meeting.
The board approved the purchase of a new fire
truck for the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department from Pennsylvania-based fire
engine manufacturer, KME, at a cost of $434,548. The town budgeted $525,000 for
the purchase of the vehicle in its Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget.
Fire Chief Frank Smith said he was pleased with
KME’s reputation because they have been in business since 1946 and manufacture
all the fire engine’s parts, chassis, body and cab in house. Smith said he
would need to travel to the factory three times — once to lay out the schematics
of the truck with KME’s engineers, once in the middle of production and a final
time at the end of production to test the vehicle.
The board of aldermen
approved an update to the town’s holiday lighting inventory using $4,000 from
the Room Occupancy Tax fund that was approved by the New Hanover County Tourism
Development Authority and an additional $3,225 from the town’s general fund
The updates will include the
purchase of four new holiday pole lights with LED bulbs, the installation of
LED bulbs on the other 15 pole lights, repair of electrical connections and
replacing the blubs on the animated dolphin lights with blue LED bulbs.
At the end of the board’s
meeting Owens also announced that the town has hired a new finance officer and
director of general administration. Erica F. Walters will fill this vacancy
left by current town finance director, Peggy Jones, who will be retiring this
Owens said Walters has more
than nine years of experience in governmental finance with seven of those years
being the finance director for the town of Selma, NC.
Walters holds a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Business Administration and a Masters of Business
Administration from East Carolina University.