Council lifts no-wake zone for competition

Published 5:43 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2009

By Staff
Beer/wine garden for Summer Festival is given go-ahead
Contributing Editor
The Washington City Council lifted the no-wake zone on the Pamlico River so a wakeboarding/ski competition and exposition can be held off the city’s waterfront either June 20 or Aug. 8.
Austin Smithwick with Park Boat Co. said he has been working with the INT League to bring such an event to Washington’s waterfront. The league held a similar event in Bath on June 28 last year.
Smithwick said the event’s main activities likely will take place between the segment of the river from the railroad trestle to the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce building. He said the green space between the N.C. Estuarium and the chamber building is an excellent place to view the event.
The North Carolina chapter of the INT League will plan and put on the event, which should draw about 50 competitors and at least 200 observers — mostly family members of the competitors — to the waterfront, Smithwick said.
Smithwick said he would like for the city “to get to the point we’re on the (league) circuit.”
Similar events are held at Lake Gaston, Lake Norman and in the Wilmington area, Smithwick said. A champion boarder lives in Chocowinity, he noted.
The event has been endorsed by the Washington Tourism Development Authority.
In other action, the council voted 4-1, with Mayor Pro Tempore Doug Mercer dissenting, to allow the chamber to have a beer garden as part of this year’s Summer Festival, set for June 12-13. The beer garden would be open both of those days from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Mercer expressed concerns about serving alcohol at what he termed a family oriented event. Council members Richard Brooks, Gil Davis, Darwin Woolard and Archie Jennings voted to allow the beer garden, which will serve beer and wine.
Chamber Executive Director Catherine Glover said having a roped-off beer garden provides a controlled area in which festival-goers may drink beer and wine. The consumption of alcohol on city property is prohibited unless the council approves it for special events.
Mercer said by allowing the beer garden at the festival, the city should “crack down everywhere else” when it comes to alcohol use at the festival.
In other business, the mayor and council members received copies of City Manager James C. Smith’s proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. They did not discuss the proposed spending plan, going into closed session immediately after receiving them.
The general-fund segment of the overall proposed budget is $11.3 million, a drop of $2.3 million, or 16.9 percent, when compared to the current general-fund budget.
Not only did Smith and department heads develop a proposed spending plan for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which begins July 1, but they also cobbled a draft budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Concerns with likely declines in revenues during those fiscal years prompted the effort to produce the two draft budgets.
In one aspect of Smith’s recommended budget, the operation of the city’s cemeteries — Oakdale and Cedar Hill — would be set up as an enterprise fund so it can be run like a business. It also recommends re-establishing a perpetual-care fund for the cemeteries to pay for maintaining cemetery plots already sold.