Here are the details and draft minutes of the OCBA.
OCRACOKE CIVIC AND BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
Monthly meeting 7 p.m. Sept. 9, 2015
Ocracoke Community Center
- Call to Order
- Approval of August minutes
- Treasurer’s report
- Travel & Tourism Director report (Sundae Horn)
- As-needed reports:
National Park Service
County Manager (Bill Rich)
County Commissioner (John Fletcher)
- President’s report (Hatteras Inlet; shoulder season events/marketing)
- New business
— Request for OCBA to purchase a locked lost-and-found box for about $200 for the sheriff’s office (Peter Vankevich)
- Old Business
–OCBA needs a treasurer/bookkeeper
–Christmas street lights
Note: 2015 meetings: Second Wednesdays of the month. 7 p.m. Ocracoke Community Center (unless otherwise stated). Next meetings are:
Oct. 14, 2015
Nov. 11, 2015
Dec. 9, 2015 (Election of officers and board members)
Jan. 11, 2016
Ocracoke Civic and Business Association
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Ocracoke Community Center
Meeting was called to order by President Rudy Austin at 7:09 p.m. Board members present: Rudy Austin, Connie Leinbach, Jim Borland, Justin LeBlanc
Others present: Sundae Horn, Fred Westervelt, Ed Fuller (for the NPS), Arleen Burley, Sue Dayton, Matteus and Daniela Gilbert, and Kris Noble.
Minutes: Of the July meetings were approved.
Justin read a letter received requesting improved recycling on the island. Sue Dayton noted that there is a major lack of recycling at the Ocracoke public access beaches, but she had seen recycling containers at the Hatteras beach. Kris Noble said the county had received the same letter and she will look into it. Sundae suggested that Kris also call the Ocracoke School because they don’t recycle. She also said the signage at the dump as to what goes in which cans could be improved.
Travel & Tourism Director’s report: Sundae Horn reported that she attended the Coast Host meeting in New Bern. She’s not sure we should join. Neither the NPS parks nor the ferries aren’t on their publicity materials. Ocracoke Island Realty is the only Ocracoke business who is a member of this organization.
Re: fireworks for 2016: If the NPS approved launching them from the beach, there would be a traffic control problem and getting cars off the beach by 9 p.m., although fireworks don’t typically start until 9 or 9:30 p.m. Ed Fuller said the main concern for fireworks on the beach is traffic and fire damage. He suggested the NPS parking lot at the south end of the island might be the best site.
Rudy said he has another lead on a barge he’s looking into.
Arleen Burley noted that there still is a strong need on the village for more/better public restrooms.
Sue Dayton related how visitors come into her shop (Roxy’s Antiques) and don’t know that they’re on an island. She said we have a captive audience on the SQ and CI ferries to give them information, be it by closed-circuit television video or a live person. Kris Noble said she is on the NC Low board and will check to see if they have grants to make videos.
Report from Matteus Gilbert: Matteus, a junior, had been selected by his teachers to attend the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership conference at Loyola University in Chicago July 18 to 25. At this, attendees learn how they can make a difference in the community, learn about social change and models of leadership. Forty percent of the attendees are international. He said the seminar’s main aim was to get the students to think about how they will make a difference in their community. The group went to Humbolt Park to clean it up. This activitiy became the largest volunteer effort in Chicago’s history. He also worked in a homeless shelter. He got a chance to meet HOBY founder actor Hugh O’Brien.
As part of his charge, Matteus has to do 150 hours of community service, which will earn him points toward next year’s seminar. He said he will organize a litter sweep and, at the OCBA’s request, will help fix the Christmas lights. He’s in the Beta Club and will talk to Jeff Schleicher, the shop teacher. Perhaps this work could be done in the shop class’s pending new quarters in the old firehouse.
NPS report: Ed Fuller reported that from Jan. 1 to Aug. 11, 1,204 annual beach-driving passes were sold, up from 1,111 last year for the same time period. Weekly permits for this period were 3,520, down from 3,538 last year. All the shore bird nesting is over. There are 82 turtle nests; 19 have hatched–all loggerheads except one green turtle nest. Hatchings will be going on for a while.
Handicapped access to the beach was discussed. Ed noted that the park service has three beach-going wheel chairs and he’s looking into buying two more. The NPS will install new bike racks at the lighthouse and airport beach area. He has ordered 18 bike racks.
NPS parking lot near the ferry terminal: The NPS is looking into how to clean this up. They are thinking about requiring (free) permits for overnight parking there. They are thinking about contracting for towing service.
County manager: Kris Noble attended for County Manager Bill Rich. She said the county is helping to locate some Sound side access and that there are two potential sites: one for ORV and one for pedestrians. There will be a public meeting Sept. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Center for public input on Sound side access. That morning, there will be a smaller group meeting to view the potential sites.
Some of the points Hyde County is suggesting to the NPS to modify their beach access are:
Handicap access to the beach is important to John Fletcher, she said, and the county will ask the NPS to consider waiving or having lower fees for handicap beach-driving.
Increase the budget for more beach-going wheel chairs
Work with a marketing program to get the word out
Annual permits should be valid from the date-of-purchase, not calendar year. Also, make available more varied ORV permits (such as weekend or daily passes).
She attended the Waterways and Inlets Commission meeting in Hatteras the day before about the worsening shoaling problem in the Hatteras Inlet, and more than 100 people attended. The next one is Sept. 19 inn the Hatteras Civic Center. The Army Corps of Engineers had made charts of the inlet. Then the local fishermen told them what they thought was out there. The local fishermen think if a dredge could bust through 200 or 300 yards, then they could cut a path. The best spot for this is on the state-owned side of the inlet. The fishermen are concerned that more sand is moving into the inlet than ever before.
Hyde County will support them with a resolution and lobbying.
The VisitNC “TRAC” group will be on Ocracoke as a community resource on Oct. 22 in the Berkley Center. This group will help be here as a marketing resource for Ocracoke businesses.
She also shared some recent statistics she found on expenditures of tourism dollars in the millions in eastern NC. Hyde County was No. 85 in terms of growth. There was $33.17 million spent on travel & tourism, which is up 2.5 percent from last year. However, she said, Dare County’s expenditures grew by almost 7 percent with $1 billion in revenues. Currituck County is up 5 percent; Beaufort County is up 6.5 percent ($76 million in tourism revenues. She said it would behoove Ocracoke to be more aggressive with its marketing and to encourage people to get here early.
Jim Borland responded that the majority of the tourist money Hyde gets is from Ocracoke and that Ocracoke can’t be compared with Dare County in terms of revenues. Other counties don’t have the ferry situation we have.
Rudy said we can’t heavily promote the island and then have people waiting three hours to catch the Hatteras ferry. That will anger them and create worse publicity.
Old business: Can the Ocracoke School shop class revamp the 25+ Christmas lights? They need to be brushed, repainted and lightbulbs replaced.
No new treasurer yet.
Storm water: Justin reported that installation of the drainage at Blackbeard’s Lodge will happen after tourist season because they will have to close off that portion of Back Road for a day to do so.
New Business: John Fletcher, via Rudy, asked the group for ideas about where the new EMS office could be located.
Meeting adjourned at 8:14 p.m. The next meeting is Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Ocracoke Community Center.
Connie Leinbach, secretary