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Flooding, Buckling, Potholes: Board Plans Road Repairs
Town Board Meeting January 2021
January 7, 2021

J
anuary’s Town Board meeting was conducted via ZOOM with all but one commissioner attending from their home. Commissioner Charlie Overcash attended from Town Hall along with Town Manager Diane Miller, though from separate rooms and computers. It was the first meeting of 2021 and the first since November 2020. December’s meeting was cancelled as not enough Commissioners were present to obtain a quorum.

Repairing the Roads: Maritime Drive and White Farm Road
As part of the restoration of Whittaker Point, heavy equipment and large loads of granite were trucked to the point using Maritime Drive and White Farm Rd. The roads have sustained a lot of damage from heavy use.

This was expected and grant funds from the Whittaker Point Restoration will be used for repairs. The project is now out to bid. State bidding regulations specify at least three bids must be received in the first round of bidding in order to award the contract. If there are less than three, the contract must be advertised for a second round of bidding.

Asphalt dug out of the middle of a road while nearby, asphalt has also been pushed up into a small bump.
Maritime Drive. The underlayment was determined to be in poor shape, resulting in the top layer of asphalt being both dug out and pushed up by trucks hauling granite rock and heavy construction equipment.

Commissioners voted to allow Town Manager Miller to award the contract to the lowest bidder if three bids are received for the project. If the bid has to go for a second round, Commissioners will go over the bids at their next meeting on January 28.

Initially, other roads needing repair were going to be included in the contract, specifically S. Water Street.

When asked why it wasn’t included, Miller said, “I think [repairing Maritime Drive and White Farm Road] is going to cost us more than our original estimate because more damage was done through the course of the project than was expected.”

As part of their next meeting, Commissioners will focus on the town wide street assessment completed by Teague Engineering. The assessment evaluated all roads in Oriental, ranking the roads in order of most and least in need of repair.

Commissioner Martin Barrow asked that all Commissioners “look at roads outlined [in the assessment] as needing the most repair and compare that against what your own experience is.” Barrow asked them to come with a list of the roads they thought needed the most attention.

“I noticed that on the map there were some [roads] listed that were higher priority than some others, and yet the ones that weren’t high priority had higher traffic or were really, in my opinion, in worse shape,” said Barrow.

The street assessment is expected to take up the bulk of the January 28 meeting.

A dog walks down the middle of a road that is flooded to the center on both sides.
S. Water Street holding water the day after a heavy rainfall.
Raising the Net House, Removing a Tree
Near the public bathrooms on South Ave, next to the free dock is the Net House.

There are plans to raise the house, but branches from a large gum tree overhang the building. Dr. Bob Miller of the Tree Board said these branches could be removed, but the tree would eventually rot and need to come down. He said it could be one year or 15 years before that happens.

The Board voted to remove the gum tree completely instead of taking the risk it could fall on the Net House or the public restrooms in the next storm. Lisa Thompson of the Harbor Waterfronts Committee said her board would work with the Tree Board to put in new two trees if possible.

The branches of a large tree hang over a small building with peeling white paint.
The gum tree and the Net House.
Whittaker Point Restoration 99% complete unless…
The Whittaker Point Restoration project is at 99% complete unless a major modification permit is approved by the NC Department of Environmental Quality, said Manager Miller.

The permit requests that ‘wings’ be added to the wave attenuators – helping to keep the water from eroding the land inside the granite – and that a jetty be added to the point to keep the waves from breaking around the point and eroding the new oyster beds.

The jetty was originally designed to be composed of granite. Several NC environmental agencies rejected this idea as a navigational hazard. Project engineers have redesigned the jetty to be on pilings sticking out of the water, and to have navigational lights and reflectors. Miller said the jetty extension will redistribute the waves that wrap around the point so they wash against the granite walls instead of into the oyster beds.

If approved, materials will be taken to the point by barge instead of over the newly repaired roads near Dolphin Point.

Miller said, “When [the permit] goes out for comment, we need to make the positive comments, not just the ‘I don’t want this happen’ but ‘yes, please permit this, let us finish this project.’ We need people to respond positively to this project.”

First steps in resolving flooding at Broad and Hodges Streets
At past meetings, Commissioner Martin Barrow has detailed his discussions with the NC Department of Transportation regarding the flooding at Hodges and Broad Street. There are four catch basins and a cistern at the intersection and drainage pipes that lead drain water away from the area.

“There used to be an outlet,” said Town Manager Miller, “but when they raised the bridge, everything got crimped off.” She said DOT had come in with sonar to locate the town’s storm water system, but could not find a void underground. This means, said Miller, “whatever pipe was there is completely filled.” Because of the crimping off of the pipe, Miller explained, the catch basins and cistern now form a closed system that floods onto the road.

The Town was able to acquire a drainage deed for Midyette St, between the Bohmert and Styron properties. A drainage ditch runs between the two properties and has deteriorated, presenting a hazard to buildings on both sides.

The Town and property owners agreed to each pay a third to have the ditch piped in and covered. The pipe will help redirect water that runs from the Broad and Hodges Street intersection down to Midyette, and out into the creeks. Manager Miller said some grading of the pipe would likely be required. “We are starting at the low end and then we’ll work our way back and see if we can get a solution.”

Miller also said that by the town doing some of the work themselves, NC DOT would be more likely to assist with the intersection in the future. Currently, Miller says, NC DOT reports they are out of funds for these kinds of projects.

A large puddle of water pools around an intersection corner. Wet tire marks from passing vehicles lead into the street.
The intersection at Broad and Hodges.
Lighted Pavilion Chosen as the next Parks and Recreation Project
In November, the Parks and Recreation Department met and went through survey results to determine their next project (there was no December meeting). The lighted pavilion was the most favored addition according to survey results.

Parks and Recreation Department chair Bonnie Crosser will reach out to Pamlico County about the project. Both the county and Oriental will share the cost. Crosser will present her findings to the Board at the annual Budget Meeting in March.

Manager’s Report
Town Manager Diane Miller informed Commissioners about several smaller projects and issues occurring in the town.
  • Jesse Burgess of the Public Works Department is resigning and taking a position in Brunswick County. Manager Miller wished him well and said he would be hard to replace. Burgess was the back flow and cross connection operator in charge for the water plants as well as a master carpenter.
  • Spectrum will no longer provide free basic cable service to government entities. This is a necessary service, said Miller, particularly during storms when Town Hall has the Weather Channel and local news channels on 24/7. They will now need to budget for this service in the future.
  • Tax revenue is keeping pace with projections and the occupancy tax is slightly ahead of projections. Commissioners expected to lose at least 20% due to COVID and budgeted accordingly. However 30 new homes have been built in the last year, giving a boost to revenue.
  • Town Hall has received a permit request from the Oriental Yacht Club to dredge their marina. No dates yet on when this may occur. OYC is located behind Garland Fulcher Seafood where S. Water Street curves along the waterfront.
Dates to Know
The next meeting is the Quarterly Workshop Agenda on Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8a via Zoom. Discussion will center on the Street assessment and which streets to repair next. If there is time, Commissioners will also discuss a website revision (as requested by Commissioner Barrow) and grant funds.

The next monthly meeting is Tuesday, February 2, 2021 @ 7p. This meeting will likely also be via Zoom.

Related Links
January Meeting Agenda
November Meeting Minutes
Mini-Brooks Resolution to Create and ADA Transition Plan
Budget Amendment
Bid to Repair White Farm Rd and Maritime Dr
COVID and Executive Order Update – REVISED
Net House Renovation
Police Report
Manager’s Report – REVISED
Auxiliary Boards Reports
Meeting Powerpoint Slideshow

Posted Thursday January 7, 2021 by Allison DeWeese


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