County to buy land for boat-launch complex

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Staff Writer

Boaters and fishermen could be using a new public boat launch and fishing pier on Blounts Creek by fall of 2011.
A representative of the state Wildlife Resources Commission made that speculation in an interview Monday following a vote by the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to buy the property on which to build the complex.
After a public hearing which drew a crowd of about 15 people and comments from 11 speakers, the board unanimously voted to buy about eight acres near Crisp Landing and Cotton Patch roads between Chocowinity and Aurora for the complex.
Opinions on the project were about evenly divided, with six people speaking in favor of it and five speaking in opposition.
Pam Daniels, who, along with her husband, owns a convenience store near the proposed boat launch, said she is concerned the project would hurt their business and that increased traffic would endanger those who are already using the waterway.
“This is going to take revenue from us,” she said.
By contrast, speaker Howard Hutchinson said the boat launch would benefit boaters on the south side of the Pamlico River.
“I just believe this would be a great idea,” he said.
The commissioners approved a plan to buy the property from its current owners — Leonard H. Gibson and spouse, Emmitt Edison Gibson and spouse and Jerry T. Gibson — for $470,000.
Once the sale is complete, the Wildlife Resources Commission will develop and maintain the property to provide public access free of charge to Blounts Creek and the Pamlico River.
According to a conceptual plan developed for the project by the Wildlife Resources Commission and on display at the meeting, the site will ultimately include a fishing pier, two boat-launch ramps, a pedestrian pier and canoe-and-kayak launch and parking for up to 61 vehicles.
The design of the complex and approval of permits for its construction from the state Division of Coastal Management and other state agencies will take about a year, according to Tom Covington, facilities construction and capital projects engineer with the Wildlife Resources Commission.
The Division of Coastal Management has awarded Beaufort County a Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program grant for the purchase of the property. This grant, along with a pending grant from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, could provide the bulk of the money to purchase the property, according to County Manager Paul Spruill.
In other business, the board:
• Set April 30 as the first meeting date of the Board of Equalization and Review to review appeals of property-tax valuations that are not resolved by informal hearings before appraisers.
• Heard a report from Patricia Mansfield, president of the Blackbeard Adventure Alliance, whose mission is to build and operate a replica of Blackbeard’s sloop Adventure as an educational resource and global marketing tool for Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina. The organization’s goal is to have the ship completed and available to visit St. Augustine, Fla., for that city’s 500th anniversary in three years, Mansfield said. “We have a maritime history that’s incredible,” she said. 
• Heard a report from Lisa Woolard, director of the Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children, who gave the board an update on the organization’s home supply box campaign. Woolard said that 675 boxes, at a cost of $25 each, will be distributed this spring through kindergarten enrollment at all public and private schools in Beaufort and Hyde counties. Private donations helped cover the cost of pencils, pencil sharpeners, scissors, crayons, construction paper and other supplies included in the boxes, she said. Since 2003, some 5,000 boxes have been distributed to all rising kindergarten students in the two counties, she said.
• Awarded a $7,000 contract to Holland Consulting Partners for preparation of the Beaufort County Community Development Block Grant scattered site housing grant application in the amount of $400,000 and a $34,000 contract to Holland Consulting Partners to complete a housing needs analysis to identify potential households and target areas for CDBG assistance.
• Unanimously voted to approve budget amendments to the Water Department’s enterprise fund to reflect changes that included an $8,754 insurance reimbursement for lightening damage to a pump station and $25,065 in insurance reimbursement for insect damage to a chlorine tank at a pump station, among other changes and various amendments to the county’s general fund.
• Unanimously voted to close out a Community Development Block Grant that was used to build a 50,000-square-foot shell manufacturing building at the Beaufort County Industrial Park. The project is anticipated to create at least 29 new jobs.
• Voted 6-1 to approve $11,605.67 in travel requests, with Commissioner Hood Richardson casing the sole dissenting vote.
• Approved the appointment of a three-member committee comprised of Commissioners Robert Cayton, Stan Deatherage and Al Klemm to revise wording of a resolution presented by Deatherage requesting that North Carolina join a lawsuit by 14 states to sue the federal government over the constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Act. 
• Unanimously voted to declare as surplus several items from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and Beaufort County Detention Center.
• Delayed action on appointments to the Social Services Board, ABC Board, Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees and Region Q Workforce Development Board, among others.
All commissioners attended the meeting.
The board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday with the Beaufort County Community College Board of Trustees in the multipurpose room of Building 10 on the BCCC campus. The board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. April 26 with the Belhaven Town Council.