CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach has several candidates running for multiple positions including Mayor as well as Town Councilmembers.
Port City Daily has emailed all of the candidates a list of the same questions and will be publishing their answers throughout the week. Answers are unedited except for formatting.
There are four candidates running for mayor — a position that will be vacated by Joe Benson who is not running for reelection.
There are two spots on Town Council up for grabs with five candidates.
Why do you want to be mayor/town council member? What are you priorities for Carolina Beach, what do you think needs to be addressed and what do you think the town currently does well?
Priorities: 1) To maintain a financially sound budget that increases reserves over time. 2) Complete the updated CAMA land use plan. A plan that meets the needs and desires of the community to retain the “small town” feel, which is the unique nature of Carolina Beach while still meeting the demands of growth throughout the region- Balance! 3). Obtain a favorable review and acceptance of the Beach Re-evaluation Report (BRER) by the US Corps of Engineers. The report which is related to beach nourishment would allow for our project to be included in the 2020 WRDA bill in the U.S. House, allowing CB to receive a renewed authorization and future beach funding. 4). Continue to work on improvements town-wide to stormwater and utility infrastructure. 5). Water quality improvements through a centralized treatment system, additional water storage.
How would you like to see the issues at Freeman Park solved? (Erosion, overcrowding, land disputes with private owners)
I have been working to get the state, county and other coastal and granting agencies to help the Town compete for the purchase of all the private tracts in the Freeman Park area, I would advocate doing without using town general funds.
This acquisition would keep the entire area a natural undeveloped park. This would include all the land behind the dunes from the beach to the Intracoastal waterway. I would work to create a few designated walking trails and perhaps a kayak launch with one dune crossover. I think leaving the very northern end as-is with no vehicles and no camping is fine. I suggest a limit to the number of annual passes and a limit the number of vehicles on a daily basis, limit camping to the offseason. I suggest that we treat the area the same as the main beach strand related to alcohol. I would close the park after dark or at a set hour, except to fisherman.
It has not and is not about the revenue form Freeman Park, it’s about the environment!
Parking rates and other costs like passes to the park have steadily risen to account for increased spending by the town, do you think it is fair to pass these costs to visitors that the town relies on to survive instead of raising taxes for residents? Would you like to see parking fees decreased?
Yes, I think it is reasonable to get revenue from the areas we see impact i.e. visitors on parking. I would not support reducing Parking rates or residents passes. The town offers no metered parking in the offseason and an annual parking pass for residents that is about 5 1/2 cents a day. I support increasing golf cart parking spaces and encouraging bike and ped access at beach entrances and throughout the town.
Speaking of parking, what are your plans to help solve parking woes? Would you consider a parking deck a viable option?
I would not support a large parking deck. Historically they prove to cost more than revenues can support, and the structure its self would not fit into our community with bulk and scale of development. I think we have additional surface lots and outlying areas we can gain spaces. I would prefer to take the parking revenue and develop a shuttle service. Perhaps we could acquire a lot on the other side of the bridge, or contract with Food Lion, and Publix to set aside X number of spaces and provide shuttle services. Maybe a tiered rate structure allowing for less expensive rates further from the beach.
With the firing of two town managers in a year, what qualities would you look for in a new manager? How could these issues be avoided in the future?
I will be looking for a manager that has a strong finical skill a proven background in budgeting, and project management. The coastal experience will also be a priority.
The manager’s job is a direct appointment by council and over time, as council changes managers change that has been the history at CB for decades. We have had 3 managers in 13 years one was extremely short tenure the others are at about the average for CB.
How would you balance moving the town forward in terms of economy and new business/condos/homes and maintaining the ‘small town’ vibe of Carolina Beach?
Balance is achieved carefully, with input from the community, both full-time residents and business owners. That is why I ranked the CAMA LUP as a high priority. Managing the balance and impact of growth and changes the most difficult job we have. All of my decisions have been with balance in mind.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about you or your hopes for Carolina Beach?
I have worked hard over the past number of years on many issues such as beach nourishment funding, Inlet dredging, Boardwalk renovations, and expansion, infrastructure replacement, stormwater enhancements, (Yes, Canal still floods) multi-use trails, sidewalks, crosswalks, changes to Freeman Park, and increased events throughout the year but we still have work ahead of us as a community. I choose to raise my children here because of the quality of life and the community. I want to continue to protect that. I believe in working together to reach common community-wide solutions