May 27, 2011

Thank You Carolina Beach

As we prepare to kick off summer 2011, I thought I would give out a shout out to the entire town of Carolina Beach.

Wow, what a difference a few years have made. Our town is abuzz with excitement and energy as we enter into the summer tourist season.

Just look around, there is activity throughout the island. Everyone has really done their part to turn our town into a true family friendly destination. Look at all the improvements that have been made to area businesses and to many of the homes on the island. Everywhere you look, people are sprucing up their properties making the island a sea of rainbows.

In the last few years, we have had a surge of new restaurants, shops and activities opening on the Island. Tourists are flooding to our area to be part of the fun and to make memories of a perfect family vacation.

And look at the press coverage the island is receiving. There have been countless positive articles written about the island from all over the state and country. People are saying good things about us in message boards, blogs and social media sites.

Major kudos go out to the Wilmington Star for continuing to cover the island and for showcasing many of the great things happening here. Their coverage has been phenomenal and has helped get the word out about the many positive changes on the island. Now granted, they have also written about some of the challenges that have surfaced, but they have always presented the information fairly and without any sensationalism.

Our island has experienced some growing pains over the last few years. Some are upset about the road diet and feel that is the sole reason for the occasional backups along Lake Park Blvd. But people have to realize that we are also getting a lot more people visiting the island. I can't begin to count the number of my Wilmington friends who now come to the island to enjoy our restaurants, our boardwalk and our beaches (with ample parking). Even with the old design, we would be having some traffic issues. Just as an aside, I remember quite a few times having traffic backed up well past River Road when coming on the island. To date, those inbound backups seem to have disappeared. Granted, outbound on Lake Park Blvd through the CBD has become an issue.

So yes, we are having some issues as we try to strive to balance the needs of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclist. But instead of just throwing up our hands and lambasting the people who were only following the downtown Master Plan when the road diet was implemented, let's work as a community to find solutions. Let's realize that everyone is trying to improve the island and that everyone involved has its best interest in mind.

Personally, I love being able to ride my bike down Lake Park Blvd as many others do as well. It makes visiting downtown on one's bicycle much more convenient and less stressful. Of course, if parallel parking had been part of the initial diet, it would be more relaxing. But nonetheless, the bike lane has become a convenience for many people who visit the Central Business District. Will the bike lanes stay or will we have to go back to the ways of yesterday? I don't know, but I'll accept what comes of it.

So please everyone, relax, we will eventually settle on a traffic solution but let's explore all available options before dismissing a central part of the Master Development Plan. The tourists will not be scared off in the meantime. Even with our occasional backups, our traffic issues don't compare to many other beach towns. Just head up to Wrightsville Beach on a holiday weekend and you'll get a taste of what I'm talking about.

So as the last hours of the 'off season' come to an end, let's all just take a moment to appreciate where we live and to be thankful for the wonderful people who make up Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Happy summer everyone!
Your friends at Carolina Beach Today
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