October 15, 2008

Island Greenway: Response from Michael Kirkbride Representing The Pleasure Island Greenway Initiative

I received the following email from Michael Kirkbride regarding today's blog post referencing the Wilmington Star Island Greenway Letter to the Editor. He OK'd the public posting.

I have a response to Jack Stanton, and I do respect his fiscal sense. I just see that the return on investment of this project to be right up at the top of those projects that our island should take on. I don’t think paving all of our current roads rises to that standard. We are going to pay $800,000 for the renovation for Federal Point boat launch. We are going to pay ~$4 million for the Park by the Sea in Kure beach. We are looking at something like $20 million for the pier including the parking lot. We are spending $250,000 for the design of our Carolina Beach State park marina. I see the Greenway project in the 2 million range for our island being a lot like I see Wilmington’s River walk. It will make our island sing by linking all of our amenities into a bike and pedestrians friendly environment, just like Wilmington’s river walk entices us to its water front. It will expand our shoulder season, and it will bring returning tourists and regional visitors. For that reason I think projects on our island should be looked at with the fiscal responsibility that Jack points to but misses the mark in this case. Since Jack has not done his homework relative to tourist destination greenways and the returns they generate like river walk, or the Outer banks pathway system or SC coastal greenways. I do not have any doubts that a commissioned study prioritizing our current projects would put the greenway right up in the top, of all county projects tucked under river walk which I am sure is still number 1.

The “Bridge to no where” reference is a good point but jack has that all wrong also. Roughly 2/3 of our County tax dollars that we pay on property taxes goes across the bridge. Because we have not requested any money for any projects, Carolina Beach is getting its minimum share of the 35Million tax bond of $200,000. Since Kure Beach has requested money for their Park project they are getting $700,000 of that bond, What is Wrightsville Beach getting between 1 and 2 Million maybe more, what should our share be or more accurately described where is our share going? Other towns in New Hanover County are building bike paths and parks (across Snows Cut bridge) with our tax dollars. As a consequence of actions by people like Jack (i.e., encouraging our tax dollars to be spent elsewhere), we will all be doing our walking and biking in other towns in New Hanover County. Do not misunderstand the other towns in our county appreciates people like Jack who fight Carolina Beach from ever requesting any of our property tax money be spent on our island, they smile all the way to the bank.

I would rather spend my time developing projects for our island that our county will be proud to spend their money on because our projects make more sense for our counties future, than those that they are currently spending our money on. So where do you want the county to spend your money Jack, on the park in Kure Beach, a bike path across the bridge going where? to Wrightsville or here in Carolina Beach. If you say here in Carolina Beach Jack how about joining us to create a project that our county should build on the island with your money.

As far as maintenance cost go after a lot of data research of coastal communities like ours that have long standing paths we are currently going to propose to council the Jekyll Island model of maintenance and security by hiring a trail manager for $22,000 a year for a 20 mile path, to do the maintenance and security year around for that one fee since he has his own equipment. Since our path is ~10 miles we are looking for someone in the $10,000 range. To defer most of that cost if not all we already have business that are interested in an “Adopt a Trail Program” that we are adopting from many other greenway trails programs. Some communities paid as much as $14,000 a year per mile for their maintenance and security. I think jack would agree that it again pays to look for better solutions, or get all the facts. We might come up with a better solution before our proposal. We will add the Washington State data to ours because we don’t have that intermediate price point.

Jack I do agree with your point: Before writing an opinion on something, you might want to get all the facts first.

I just got an email from one of our Carolina Beach P&Z board members who wrote the following: I will say this, I have a totally different opinion of this Island Greenway Project. At first I thought it was wonderful. Now I think it is GREAT. Let me tell you what has changed my thinking pattern. I have been in Key West since Oct1 and will not be back until Nov.1. I am biking and walking everywhere. We need to make cars obsolete on the streets of CB. Have a giant parking lot at the bridge!! When I get back I plan on doing more biking and walking. It is better for me and the environment.

This community leader has really come over from the dark side or is it the car side. As you have pointed to in your blog, if you experience bike centric communities all of a sudden things shift, no amount of talking to the group that has not experienced a town like Boulder Colorado, or Copenhagen Denmark, or Key West can convince them that it is a good fit for our island and should be a priority, fiscally or quiet enjoyment health wise.

Michael L. Kirkbride
Web site: http://islandgreenway.org

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