Gateway plans

Published 3:32 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

By Staff
nearly finished
Project requirespermits from CRC
Staff Writer
BELHAVEN — The initial design phase for two of the three projects included in the Wynne’s Gut Gateway master plan are close to completion, said Belhaven Town Manager Guinn Leverett.
Design plans for construction of a docking area downstream from the Wynne’s Gut creek and the restoration of the watershed upstream will soon be presented to agencies providing permits and grants, according to a town official.
Kimley-Horn, the master plan’s authors, will present the docks project to Coastal Resources Commission officials, which administer the Coastal Area Management Act.
Before construction of the docks can commence, CRC officials must issue a permit for the project. The permitting process is expected to take from six months to two years, said Leverett.
If a permit is granted, the town may begin construction of the docks.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has given the town a grant to execute the project, which includes dredging the mouth of Wynne’s Gut to a depth of 6 feet.
Leverett said the mouth has several areas where the depth is only 3 feet.
Plans for the restoration of the watershed upstream from the mouth of Wynne’s Gut must be completed by the beginning of February 2009, said Leverett.
The plan must be ready to present to the North Carolina Division of Water Quality during its February grant cycle, he said.
Included in the plan will be walking trails, gazebos and picnic areas along the creek and pedestrian bridges across the creek.
Leverett said he envisions wooden boardwalks stretching across the gut’s marshy areas, “kind of like Goose Creek (State Park).”
The land on both sides of the creek is private property, but the town hopes to strike a deal with the owner of that land. Most of the land is overgrown and undeveloped, said Leverett.
The town will also need a “minor” CAMA permit from CRC to start the restoration of the creek, said Leverett.
The likely final design for Wynne’s Gut Gateway has been coined the “safe harbor” design by Pat Hart, landscape architect with Kimley-Horn.
Hart, who developed the master plan, came up with the “safe harbor” plan, anticipating that John “Skip” Dixon wouldn’t sell his vacant waterfront lot to the town.
The waterfront lot is located next to the proposed docking area.
Dixon told Leverett he is not interested in selling the lot at this time.
The town manager said he plans to reconvene with the town’s stakeholders soon.
The project’s master plan, in part, is a product of two days of meetings with the stakeholders in October.
Just like during the first set of meetings, “they will tell me what they like, don’t like,” said Leverett.