State, county consider more river access

Published 8:19 pm Friday, June 10, 2016

The county will consider teaming up with the state to create more public boating access at Pantego Creek in Belhaven.

During the June 6 meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Chief Engineer Mark Hamlett made a presentation about the possibility of building a boat ramp on the 32 acres in Belhaven known as the Cooperage Tract. The new site would include parking for 60-70 vehicles with trailers.

The land, donated to the county by Front Porch Acquisitions earlier this year, is located at the southern corner of intersection of West Main Street and N.C. Highway 99 South, with extensive frontage along Pantego Creek. Formerly home to a lumber mill, fertilizer storage, a veneer and plywood company, marina and fueling station, feed mill and fertilizer plant over the past century, county staff is currently pursuing acceptance into the federal Brownfields program, an EPA program that provides grants and technical assistance to clean up contaminated properties.

The project proposed by Hamlett is similar to two projects on which the state and county have worked together: a boat ramp and fishing pier on Blounts Creek, off of Crisp Landing Road, that opened in 2013; and another currently in progress at Wrights Creek, on property formerly home to Buddy’s Seafood.

As with the other two public access projects, the state would do the major work and the county would handle light maintenance.

“We would install, permit and build it,” Hamlett said. “Those large expenses, we would take care of, and just look to the county to take care of the day-to-day.”

Those day-to-day items would include mowing and picking up trash, he said.

Hamlett said Wildlife Resources would not use the entire Cooperage Tract property for the ramp and parking, so the county could keep some acreage on Main Street for potential commercial use. Wildlife Resources currently operates a smaller site on nearby Water Street, with parking for 30-35 vehicles and trailers.

If a Wildlife Resources builds a ramp at the Cooperage Tract, the Water Street site will revert back to the Town of Belhaven.

“We would not have interest in having two sites there,” Hamlett said.