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Oriental Receives $916,406 Grant
$ Targeted at Restoring Whittaker Point
August 7, 2018

916,406. The word came in Thursday August 2 from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The money is for the restoration of Whittaker Point, the spit of land protecting Oriental’s Whittaker Creek and part of the shoreline along South Avenue.

There may be even more grant money coming in for Whittaker Point restoration – the Town has applied for $400,000 from NC DEQ.

You may have also read about grant money and raising funds for Whittaker Creek dredging. It can all get confusing – so here is an overview of all things Whittaker Point & Whittaker Creek:

The Grants
The Whittaker Point Restoration Project
Oriental has applied for two large grants for the restoration of Whittaker Point, a small peninsula acting as a barrier island between Whittaker Creek and the Neuse River.

One grant has been awarded. The Golden LEAF Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to increase economic opportunities in rural communities, has awarded Oriental a $916,406 Disaster Recovery Grant. The grant is conditional upon the transference of Whittaker Point (sometimes referred to as Whittaker Pointe for nearby Whittaker Pointe Marina) to the town of Oriental.

According to the town announcement, Oriental’s Mayor and Town Board are expected to accept the donation of Whittaker Point at the Tuesday, August 7 Town Board Meeting.

The second grant is from the NC Department of Environmental Quality, a matching grant worth approximately $400,000. Town Manager Diane Miller said the town will use the Golden LEAF money as the match for the NC DEQ grant.

Town Manager Diane Miller recently learned that the NC Coastal Federation is applying for a grant worth $400,000 from the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services on behalf of Oriental.

The Whittaker Point Restoration Project will be fully funded by grants.

The Whittaker Creek Dredging Project
The Whittaker Creek Dredging Project has one matching grant, secured by private residents. The total amount of the grant is $218,744. However, the town needs to raise $109,389 to have the grant funds released for use. A recent public meeting was held on the topic. There was a suggested donation of $400 per home owner and $6,000 per business on Whittaker Creek.

$25,802 has been raised by residents as of August 6.

To donate, bring a check by Oriental Town Hall. Make the check out to “Town Of Oriental”, and then note in the memo line “Whittaker Creek Dredging”. You can also mail that check to:
Town Of Oriental, PO Box 472, Oriental NC 28571, Attn: Whittaker Creek Dredging

Whittaker Point Update
The channel is about center, Whittaker Pointe Marina at left, Whittaker Creek Yacht Harbor at right. Also at left, you can see the deeply eroded state of Whittaker Point. (Photo Frank Roe)

Whittaker Creek and Whittaker Point: The Issues
Whittaker Point juts out into the Neuse River, absorbing wave energy coming from the Neuse River. The erosion of the point has been steadily increasing, resulting in two breaches. One of those breaches exposed failed attenuators – structures meant to slow down the wave energy – installed in the mid-twentieth century.

The erosion of the point has allowed sediment from the river to reach and settle into Whittaker Creek, causing navigation problems in the creek.

Whittaker Creek: The Dredging Project
Henry Frazer, owner of Whittaker Pointe Marina, and other private citizens who live along the creek secured a matching grant to help pay for the dredging of the Creek.

Whittaker Point: The Restoration Project
Frazer and others initially sought to repair Whittaker Point. The project was too large in scope and cost; the larger grants necessary for the project would not be granted to private citizens. Frazer spoke with Commissioner Charlie Overcash about deeding the land to the town of Oriental as a way of securing the funds and preserving the Point.

In February, a presentation was created by geologist and Whittaker Creek resident Jim Blackerby, illustrating the scope of erosion over the years. The presentation included a a scenario of Oriental without the point and the damage one storm could do to the homes, businesses, and estuaries along the creek. This presentation was shown to residents and Town Officials.

Town Manager Miller, at the bequest of Mayor Sally Belangia and the Town Commissioners, used the presentation to consult with the non-profit North Carolina Coastal Federation. Engineers and scientists visited Whittaker Point, and began developing a restoration plan that included applying for several different federal and state grants, and completing the restoration in phases concurrent with the dredging.

To help cut the cost of the project, the spoils from the dredging of Whittaker Creek may be used in the project.

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Posted Tuesday August 7, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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