Boat at OWWA dock Ocracoke, NC
The dock at the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s exhibit in Community Square will be refurbished later this year. Photo: C. Leinbach

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Staff report

The Ocracoke Foundation plans to repave the Community Square parking lot this winter with completion expected before Easter.

Scott Bradley, Foundation president, said the project is possible thanks in part to a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, Rocky Mount.

This project involves repaving the parking lot with pervious concrete—a costlier, environmentally significant option which absorbs rain water instead of draining into Silver Lake, improving the harbor’s water quality.

However, the new lot will lose four to six parking spots.

Golden LEAF has also granted the Foundation $175,820 to save, restore and improve the Will Willis Store and Fish House (ca. 1930), its support structure and surrounding dock, which were seriously compromised in October 2016 by Tropical Storm Hermine and Hurricane Matthew. 

This building and dock is home to the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Exhibit, and refurbishing is planned to begin late in the 2018 off-season.

The Foundation also has cleared the final hurdles to soon proceed with the installation of waste water improvements at the Community Square. Repaving the parking lot is part of this phase of the Community Square Revitalization Project.

“This will allow the existing toilets to empty into updated septic, but there will not be enough capacity for public use beyond the current limited use by employees,” Bradley said.

Since 1918, Ocracoke’s Community Square has been the heart of the island’s maritime heritage, a welcoming gathering place for watermen, merchants, students, locals and tourists alike.

The Foundation purchased Community Square in November 2013 with two loans totaling $1.6 million, half each from The Conservation Fund (TCF) and a Private Donor.

“TCF was recently repaid, thanks to generous donations, large and small, from many of you, and a partnership loan from TowneBank,” Bradley said. “We will continue raising funds to secure debt free ownership over the next two years. This will enable us to direct rental income into a Community Fund to benefit island needs, and to preserve the five National Register Historic structures and two docks.”

To assist the Foundation in securing this iconic area of Ocracoke Village, donations may be sent to The Ocracoke Foundation, P.O. Box 1689, Ocracoke, NC 27960-1689.

Contact information is as follows:, and the website is here.


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