ENTICING WATERFRONT: Washington’s draft comprehensive plan outlines ways the city might enhance tourism by attracting recreational boaters and outdoor activities.

Archived Story

Buoying tourism: Draft plan identifies new opportunities

Published 8:19pm Saturday, January 5, 2013

Washington’s draft comprehensive plan lists six action steps the city should take to enhance its existing tourism and eco-tourism efforts.
Some of those action steps are short-term, some are medium-term and others are long-term strategies. The six action steps are as follows:
uIdentify new opportunities to attract recreational boaters and outdoor activity. The draft suggests seeking ways to enhance tourism dollars and consider revising existing policy so public docks may be used for eco-tourism purposes.

  • Review regulations and procedures to ensure consideration to access issues as improvements are planned for the waterfront area. The draft recommends that as improvements are planned that consideration be given to access issues and environmentally friendly building techniques.
  • Continue to pursue construction of greenways and walking trails throughout the community.
  • Expand the city’s inventory of boat slips and improve the amenities at new and existing boat slips to include picnic tables, benches, boater bathrooms, a dock master’s station and other amenities.
  • Provide nonmotorized watercraft access ramps to encourage safe water access for paddlers.

Improve the public’s access to the water by building a community pier.
Councilman Bobby Roberson said he likes many of the plan’s recommendations regarding tourism, especially the suggestion to allow public docks to be used for eco-tourism purposes.
“I’m definitely in favor of that. … One of my priorities since I’ve been on the council is to continue to expand the wilderness park. I think eco-tourism for us — we’ve got a natural beauty enhancement in eastern North Carolina, and Washington just happens to be one of those. I just think we need to promote that,” Roberson said Saturday. “We need to encourage people to come down to eastern North Carolina, do what they do at the Estuarium and go out on a boat trip for one day to see the natural habitat (for wildlife) we have. We need to promote that.”
During the development of the draft plan, some of its recommendations began becoming realities.
Another step toward reinvesting in and revitalizing downtown Washington occurred Dec. 10 when the City Council unanimously accepted a grant to help pay a new dock master’s stations and public restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway.
The council also allocated $300,000 toward the project.
The $200,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a $50,000 grant from the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and $50,000 from the city will help pay for the project.
As for the $300,000 allocated for the project, most of it — $245,000 — will go toward construction, $40,000 toward planning and design and $15,000 for contingency.
A design concept for public restrooms and a dock master’s facility at the west end of the waterfront promenade was developed for the purpose of seeking grants to pay for the building that would house the restrooms and dock master’s facility. The design of that building attempts to replicate the former Pamlico Point Lighthouse.
The public bathrooms, as well as showers for boaters and laundry facilities for boaters, would be on the ground floor of the structure. The dock master’s station would be on the second floor of the structure, according to a presentation made to the council in June.

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