CAROLINA BEACH — Perhaps one of the least glamorous but most important aspects of creating a welcoming public space for visitors to a town is the inclusion of easily accessible public restrooms. In Carolina Beach, the topic of public restrooms has been a conversation residents and elected leaders have had for several years.
While some shops and restaurants at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk do have restrooms for guests, the town has also provided its own bathrooms — and despite the desire to rebuild them, it’s not exactly a possibility. That’s because the town’s facilities lie within the Coastal Area Management Act boundary, according to Mayor of Carolina Beach Joe Benson.
Because of this, only minor renovations are able to be made, so the town is now heading in a different direction — the complete demolition and reconstruction of facilities located on Hamlet Avenue, just off the Boardwalk. On Tuesday, the Town Council approved the financing of the project (as well as the purchase of a piece of property on the Boardwalk) for $1.2 million.
But the new facilities won’t just serve the public as bathrooms, the new building will also serve as the home of Ocean Rescue.
With a town like Carolina Beach that relies heavily on tourism to support its economy construction needs to be completed by next year’s beach season.
So earlier this month the town opened the request for proposals process allowing interested companies to submit bids for the work, Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin said.
That period will close on Sept. 20 and the demolition of the current facilities is planned for Sept. 23, just three days later.
If all goes according to plan, Parvin said he hopes the construction of the facilities will begin early November and be completed just in time for beach season at the end of April.
In the meantime, the town has also agreed to purchase a former gift shop on the Boardwalk where Ocean Rescue will temporarily store their equipment until the new facilities are built.
A price has not yet been set for the project since bids have not yet been received, but the purchase price of the gift shop was $337,500 leaving around $860,000 left from the $1.2 million loan.
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