Wynne’s GutGateway comes to life

Published 12:39 am Thursday, September 25, 2008

By Staff
Kimley-Horn presentation includes two primary designs
Staff Writer
BELHAVEN — After two marathon days of input and output, Kimley-Horn has whittled down the master plan for the Wynne’s Gut Gateway to two distinct designs.
The difference in master plan layouts depends on what Skip Dixon, who owns property directly east of Wynne’s Gut in Belhaven, wants to do with his land. Dixon was planning to build a complex housing at least 10 condominiums on the property, as well as an in-ground pool and parking lot.
The first master plan design anticipates that Dixon will use his property for such purposes, and it aims to incorporate the Wynne’s Gut Gateway around the land.
Dixon promised the town that if the community is built, it will use the same architectural stylings as that of the gateway.
The second master plan design anticipates that Dixon will sell his property back to the town. Dixon told Belhaven Town Manager Guinn Leverett at a meeting held with Kimley-Horn and the town’s stakeholders Tuesday that he would be willing to sell the property for the right price.
After Tuesday’s meeting, which lasted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kimley-Horn brought their design ideas for the gateway in front of the Coastal Resources Commission, which administers the Coastal Area Management Act.
Drawing up ideas from the town’s stakeholders, Kimley-Horn presented seven designs to the Coastal Resources Commission, part of the Division of Coastal Management with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Pat Hart, landscape architect with Kimley-Horn, said the design firm met with the commission for about three hours.
The commission, which is in charge of land permitting for the project, scrapped five of the designs. Of the two, the commission prefers the design anticipating that Dixon will sell his property.
Hart predicts that the final master plan will be a combination of both designs.
The two designs also have unique characteristics that differentiate them.
The first design includes more dockage length along the east side of Wynne’s Gut. Included in the dockage is space for a showboat.
After stakeholders mentioned the popularity of Belhaven’s Way-Off Broadway Players, Hart designed an area to place a showboat in the gut. He said the showboat could be an ideal place for the players to perform.
The second design includes space on the east side of the gut for some sort of unique attraction.
With Belhaven’s history of flooding from hurricanes, the stake holders and Hart thought building a hurricane marker to be clever and informative.
A hurricane marker would mark off the height of peak flooding on Water Street from all the hurricanes to strike the town over the years.
Concerns were raised among citizens regarding the dockage in Wynne’s Gut. At its deepest point, the gut reaches 9 feet.
Hart assured concerned citizens that the town and firm can devise a boat slip system “that people can interact with,” he said.
The deeper into the gut, the smaller the vessel must be, according to Hart.
The dockage will be geared toward people coming in for the day, he said.
It will encourage visitors to grab some ice cream or do a little shopping, Hart said.
Funding for the dockage will be provided by the town and the Division of Marine Fisheries.
The agency is currently writing up a contract for the town. It will provide 50 percent funding for the dockage.
The contract entails the construction of 900 linear feet of dockage, which will provide access for boats an average of 30 feet in length.
The gateway will also include the replacement of the Water Street bridge. The bridge will be designed by Kimley-Horn, but is on a North Carolina Department of Transportation timetable, said Leverett.
It is possible that bridge replacement work will coincide with dockage construction, said Leverett.
He said he wants to create a “certain amount of synergy.”
Hart said he envisions character unification between the two projects, which will hopefully have a positive impact on Belhaven’s downtown district.