June 29, 2008
N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher and Carolina Beach in Pier Talks
Kure Beach – The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher and the town of Carolina Beach are discussing a partnership that would bring an educational ocean fishing pier, called “Aquarium Pier at Carolina Beach” to the boardwalk area.
The Carolina Beach boardwalk is the keystone of the town's recent Master Development Plan. Town Manager Tim Owens calls the opportunity for a pier returning to the boardwalk area exciting, and says it would assist Carolina Beach in implementing the Master Development Plan.
Visitors and tourism-oriented businesses have mourned the rapid vanishing of fishing piers in the last decade. A succession of hurricanes in the late 1990s wiped out many of these gathering spots, favored by vacationers and locals alike. Soaring real estate values spelled the demise of others.
Fishing piers have played an important role in the culture and history of the coast, as well as in the tourism-driven economy. Aquariums Division Director David Griffin notes that the price of oceanfront real estate makes the prospect of private investment in new piers unlikely. “The North Carolina Aquariums are uniquely positioned to address this loss,” he said. “We already have well-established educational programs and facilities within an easy drive of all the major tourist beaches.”
In addition, Aquarium staff views the proposed educational pier as another avenue to advance the Aquariums’ mission of inspiring appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments. “The interest in recreational fishing in the Pleasure Island area presents a wonderful opportunity to teach conservation,” said Aquarium Director Donna Moffitt. “Getting people out into their natural surroundings is the most effective form of environmental education.”
The Aquariums’ proposed pier complex would be accessible to people with disabilities and would facilitate beach access with a bathhouse. The site will likely include a tackle shop, gift shop and concessions, all operated by the N.C. Aquarium Society.
Anglers and vacationers won’t be the only potential users. The Aquarium proposes to include a two-story multipurpose pier house, exhibits, classrooms, meeting and event rooms, accommodations for other water-based activities, and staging areas for data collection and research. Among the many programs under consideration are fishing conservation workshops, beach walks, sleepovers, science camps, school programs, kayak excursions and surfing classes. “With an Aquarium Pier at Carolina Beach, we’ll be able to bring new programs to more people,” Moffitt said.
The Aquarium Pier would follow the model of the first pier which is nearing the start of construction at Nags Head. The second pier is proposed at Emerald Isle, to be operated by the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The proposed piers will extend 1,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, with concrete pilings to withstand crashing waves and high winds, and timber decks to reflect traditional pier construction. The design will employ “green” building principles and stormwater treatment methods.
The Aquariums are using the state’s Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund and admissions revenues for construction. The piers are expected to generate sufficient revenue to support their operations. A minimum of six permanent, full-time employees would be needed to operate the Aquarium Pier at Carolina Beach.
The state’s three public aquariums are located at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores and Roanoke Island. Administered by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the aquariums are designed to inspire appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments. General information: http://www.ncaquariums.com.
N.C. Aquariums are accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA and its more than 200 members work together to build North America’s largest wildlife conservation movement, by engaging and inspiring 143 million visitors and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.
Original story and artist conception of the proposed pier.
June 27, 2008
In a statement to The Associated Press, Dole said she supports lifting a 27-year-old moratorium that has prohibited exploration off the North Carolina coast.
"Now, more than ever, responsible and practical steps are needed to increase our energy independence and strengthen economic and national security," Dole said.
The Republican, facing re-election for the first time, said the option should be available to states so long as the exploration is safe, clean and not visible from land. She plans to sign on to a GOP measure allowing states to open areas at least 50 miles off their shorelines to exploration that could bring in extra revenue for the states.
For years, Dole had supported the ban on oil exploration, saying it was necessary to protect tourism and marine habitat.
"There is no question that now, more than ever, we must work to end our dependence on foreign oil," Dole said in a 2005 floor speech.
"But we cannot do so by ignoring the wishes and economic needs of the majority of the people of North Carolina, and many other coastal states, who oppose this exploration."
But as gas prices have passed $4 a gallon, Dole has increasingly softened her stance on offshore exploration.
She said at a forum with Democratic rival Kay Hagan last weekend that she still opposed the idea but would consider a measure if it came across her desk.
Hagan's campaign said the drilling plan indicates that Dole and other politicians have given oil companies too much power over Washington.
"In an election year, it's no wonder Sen. Dole is running from gas prices that are pushing $5 a gallon, pushing a faux plan that will do nothing to lower our gas prices in the short-term and will actually do harm to our coastline in the long-term," Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan said.
Hagan, like fellow Democrats in Congress, opposes the offshore drilling plan.
Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have said offshore drilling could help the nation ease its dependence on foreign oil and provide short-term relief to gas prices.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has opposed the idea.
The Interior Department estimates that opening remaining U.S. coastal waters could provide access to 18 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath the 574 million acres.
But experts believe it could take years before production begins.
Leasing likely wouldn't begin until 2012 for the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the plans wouldn't significantly affect production or prices before 2030, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration last year. And the report indicated that the new oil would do little to move prices after that.
Gov. Mike Easley said last week he sees a "very poor" chance that North Carolina would move to allow offshore drilling if the federal ban was ever lifted.
June 26, 2008
Here is a list of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach restaurants that have websites with online menus:
If I missed an available online menu, please let me know and I'll add it. (Click name for menu)
Blackhorn Bar & Kitchen (CB)
Bowman's Seafood Restaurant (CB)
Courtyard Marriott Seaside Grill (CB)
El Zarape Mexican Restaurant (CB)
Freddie's Restaurante (KB)
Granny's Country Kitchen (CB)
Gulf StreamRestaurant (CB)
Havana's Restaurant (CB)
Hoplite Pub & Beer Garden (CB)
IDA Thai Cuisine (CB)
Michaelangelos Pizza & Subs (CB)
Michael's Seafood Restaurant (CB)
Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar (CB)
Shuckin' Shack (CB)
Surf House Cafe (CB)
The Dive Food & Spirits (CB)
Treehouse Bistro (CB)
Tuscan Grill (CB)
June 24, 2008
Carolina Beach is about to get a new restaurant and it is a Dive. The Dive is located at 6A N. Lake Park Blvd and is next to the Shuckin' Shack. They are seeking the OK from the town to increase their seating capacity up to 99 seats. They are able to do so because they have taken over an adjacent unit and have nearly doubled the size of the former Gyro's Restaurant. From what I hear, they hope to be open by the July 4th holiday.
Their phone number: 910-458-8282
June 21, 2008
A new pier (similar to the Wrightsville Beach Johnny Mercer pier) will be a huge win win for the town and the aquarium. The pier will help shine new daylight on the various boardwalk redevelopment projects and will help bring new interest to the aquarium which is tucked away on the south end of the island.
Thanks to all the parties involved and I hope this project soon becomes a reality.
June 17, 2008
The Dow Road Steering Committee will be having a public meeting on 30 June to advise residents of their current progress with the Dow Road Corridor Study. Currently, they are looking to have a four lane divided highway to K Avenue in Kure Beach and a two lane shoulder section for the remaining roadway which would tie into Fort Fisher Blvd further down towards the ferry entrance. In addition, they are looking to extended the current Carolina Beach multi-use path along the new roadway.
Expanding the bike path to Fort Fisher would be a huge win for Wilmington cyclist as the entire Wilmington area is sorely lacking in cycling options. By expanding the current trail, Pleasure Island residents would have easy access to all the local beaches as well as the Fort Fisher Ferry. It would cut down on some vehicle traffic and would help with summer congestion. I'm sure visitors would welcome the trail with open arms as it would afford them one more recreational option during their stay. And I wouldn't be surprised if the trail became the number one spot for in-line skaters as the path would be wide and free from any cross traffic.
So if you have a free moment and support this initiative, please let the powers-to-be know:
Wilmington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Development Services,
305 Chestnut Street
P.O. Box 1810
Wilmington, NC 28402-1810
June 5, 2008
Finally, after many months of looking at these vacated and boarded buildings, a wrecking crane has arrived on a white horse and removed them from our vista. And although this lot is not affiliated with the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn property, apparently the Hilton contractors will be using the vacant lot as a staging area for their construction equipment.
As of now, I have not heard what longer term plans the owners have for this property. But considering the property is sandwiched between the Hilton project and the Marina, one can assume the owners are making plans.
Ref to earlier story:
June 3, 2008
that the N.C. Aquariums are now strongly considering the Carolina Beach Boardwalk as the location for construction of a new concrete pier. Their intention to build a pier on Pleasure Island first became known in February 2008 when they released a press release. "In order to preserve a coastal tradition that weather and economics have nearly erased from the shoreline, the N.C. Aquariums want to build and run three storm-resistant ocean fishing piers. The proposed piers will extend 1,000 feet into the Atlantic, with concrete pilings to withstand crashing waves and high winds, and timber decks to reflect tradition. The design will employ 'green' building principles and stormwater treatment methods."
There is no doubt that the recent initiatives to improve the boardwalk and move forward with the CB Master Development Plan is fueling interest in the area. And if you have had the chance to read over the Master Development Plan, you would see that one of the two proposed initiatives for development of the core area between Cape Fear Blvd and Harper Ave is a Pier Park Concept. The other concept is for a Town Square.
Having the N.C. Aquariums take a strong interest in our boardwalk area is truly a welcomed gift as they would be funding the majority of the pier construction; Carolina Beach would help with securing suitable land area.
But for now, one must consider the first word of this article. The proposal is still just a rumor, albeit confirmation has come from some knowledgeable sources.
So for now, we watch and wait. If I hear more, I'll keep you posted.
Here are two artist renderings of the proposed Pier Park Concept as illustrated in the Master Development Plan. If you view the pictures on the actual plan, they are much clearer and less distorted. Click the above link for the actual MDP document.
June 2, 2008
Major kudos to our Carolina Beach Town Council for making this project a reality. There is no doubt that the Hilton Garden Inn hotel will help our local economy and may very well be the catalyst to push forward other major revitalization projects looming for the central business district.
Stay tuned....as hotel construction moves forward, I'll be posting updated pictures.
June 1, 2008
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk Makeover was a huge success! With some very hard work by volunteers and their buckets of paint and mulch, the CB Boardwalk has a new life. The area is teeming with visitors and residents enjoying the open air seating and the quaint touches of paint and decorations. And although the 'makeover' was just a temporary fix, the volunteers have once again made the familiar stomping ground appealing to visitors and a welcoming place to rest, eat and enjoy ocean scenery. The overall results of their efforts are quite notable and they remind us that volunteers can and do make a huge difference in our lives.
But eventually, the boardwalk as we know it today, will be no more. The old buildings of years past will be torn down to make way for new development as we begin to see exciting additions and changes to the central business district and boardwalk area. Those days are coming and I eagerly look forward to our next step forward.
But for now it is nice to enjoy the days of yesteryear with their freshly applied coats of new paint. Burgers, hot dogs and doughnuts can be enjoyed while taking in the quaintness of the boardwalk with its impressive landscaping, colors and outdoor entertainment.
Summer days seem to pass quickly and this year, I know where I'll be spending quite a few of them.
PS. In the last picture, preliminary work has begun on the Hilton Garden Inn