Ocracoke Island will see a new transportation option in late August when four passenger trams will begin circulating around the village.
Joseph Ramunni, manager of the Community Store and who was the successful bidder with Hyde County for the tram contract, said at the July 11 Ocracoke Civic and Business Association civic affairs meeting that trams will run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Starting the service before the arrival of the new passenger ferry arrives, expected sometime this fall, will allow him and his staff to work out the operations.
“We want to be sure the tram flow doesn’t impede the rest of the traffic,” Ramunni said. “The point is for this to help.”
The 11-person trams and two wagons, primarily for handicap needs, will be stored at a building on Berkley Manor property as well as charging poles. Signage for the stops has been approved.
At this point, Ramunni was unsure if animals other than service pets will be allowed to board.
While the new passenger ferry is expected to be delivered to the N.C. Ferry Division this year and some preliminary runs may be done, full service will begin next year.
Ocracoke’s county commissioner Tom Pahl reported that the village needs improvements for public safety, particularly, the roads are missing painted lines for traffic and crossings. He noted the high number of vehicles this summer, including motorized skateboards.
Poor visibility because of vegetation at numerous intersections around the village should be cut back, he said.
Pahl said Ocracoke should consider setting up a fire district that would permit taxing, like the Mosquito Control Board, to fund the OVFD.
There are two ways to handle this, an easy one and a hard one.
The easy one would simply be for county commissioners to approve it. The hard way is to get signatures, hold public meetings then hold a community vote, which he favors.
Outgoing Hyde County Manager Bill Rich said the county is on track to collect about $550,000 in occupancy tax this year. Recently, the county received tax payments from AirB&B, which previously had not been collected.
The county expects its new EMS building in the lot across from the Island Inn to be installed in September or October.
David Senseney complimented the convenience center, saying it is better maintained this summer. Pahl said that the county installed liquid runoff collection from the trash bins, which has greatly diminished the bad odors.
The OCBA has a contract with Element Advertising of Asheville ready to sign with the Ocracoke Tourism Development Authority.
Element, which markets Ocracoke and measures return on investment, will provide lodging statistics as to the effectiveness of the advertising.