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Town Board Meeting August 2018
A new grant opportunity, hungry animals, street closings
August 8, 2018

wenty plus residents attended Tuesday’s meeting. Most were there to hear the updates on the Whittaker Point Restoration project. Along with Town Commissioners, they also heard about upcoming street closings, the semi-retirement of a Tree Board member, and why residents shouldn’t feed the wildlife.

town hall sign

Whittaker Point Restoration Update
The Town Board’s only public comment came from Madeline Sutter. Citing a list of names published on TownDock.net, Sutter said Whittaker Creek businesses had yet to contribute to the Whittaker Creek Dredging Fundraiser, an ongoing effort to raise $109,389, matching money needed to release grant funds for the Whittaker Creek Dredging Project. Sutter was adamant that businesses contribute their share. The fund has collected $25,802 as of August 6.

Town Manager Diane Miller discussed the Golden LEAF Foundation grant of $916,406 Oriental received for the restoration of Whittaker Point. She and Harbor Waterfronts Advisory Committee Interim Chair Lisa Thompson will attend a meeting with Golden LEAF on August 15th to learn how to process the grant.

Miller also announced another potential grant. The NC Coastal Federation is applying for a grant worth $400,000 from the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services on behalf of Oriental. Miller says this grant, if awarded, will cover any cost overruns of construction, permitting, or engineering.

An appraisal on Whittaker Point (owned by Whittaker Pointe Marina Owners Association) was paid for by Ben Hollowell as part of the deal to donate the land to Oriental and has been completed. Hollowell and Henry Frazer, who first brought the land transfer idea to the Board, are co-owners of the Whittaker Pointe Marina.

The land, once valued around $25,000 according to the tax rolls, has now been appraised at $59,000. The increased value is good for Oriental, said Town Manager Miller. It increases the value of the land and that value can be used as part of the match required by the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) grant. (The Golden LEAF grant will also be used as part of the NCDEQ match.) Miller said the land value increase is also good for the owners as they will use it as a tax write-off.

According to the town attorney, the Town Manager does not need Board approval to take possession of Whittaker Point. It had been stated in previous meetings and documents that the town would take possession when funds had been secured. Miller said the appropriate paperwork is at the attorney’s and the transfer will occur shortly.

Commissioner David White and Town Manager Miller made it clear that the grants obtained for the Whittaker Point Restoration, though some are matching, would require no funds from the town. The Golden LEAF grant, the value of Whittaker Point, the hours spent on administrative tasks for the grant and projects all count towards the match. Commissioner White said Oriental will not have to spend town money on the restoration project.

Budget Amendments and Water Plant Replacement Valve Price Increase
Oriental’s General Ordinance requires Board approval to amend the budget by more than $1,000. Most budget amendments involve moving money in excess of $1,000 from a savings account into an expenditure account to pay for items in the annual budget. Town Manager Miller requested an amendment to move money into an expenditure account to pay for the new police vehicle, for contract service cleanings, and for the Harbor Master.

Depreciation in the Water Fund will decrease by $4,100. During budget meetings, a quote was obtained for the replacement value of a necessary valve for the water plant. The quote time limit ran out and the new quote has an increased price of $4,100.

The Board approved the amendments.

Street Closings Requested for October
Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival
Dottie Osmun has requested street closures on Saturday, October 6 from 8a – 6p. She asked for the closure of South Avenue from Wall St. to Vandemere St. with the additional closure of King St., Neuse St., Freemason St., and High St. to 1st Avenue, and Mildred St. up to the River Neuse Suites. 1st Avenue will remain open.

Though the Festival officially begins Friday at 2, Osmun is only requesting closing on Saturday. The Festival has enlisted the help of several high school ROTC members to work traffic and help out that day.

A non-denominational service with the Gospel Ensemble will be held Sunday across from Lou Mac Park. Osmun is not requesting a road closure for Sunday.

The Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival will run from October 5-7.

The Oriental Car Show
This year’s car show will again be held at Lou Mac Park. Sam Meyers requested the closing of the 600, 700, and 800 blocks of South Avenue on Saturday October 13, from 8a to 5p as well as portions of Mildred and Freemason adjacent to South Ave, leaving driveways accessible to home owners. Meyers says the Rotary Club is expecting 90 entrants in the show and around 500 attendees.

Meyers also asked the the Board if he and other members of the Rotary Club could meet with the Board in October with a proposition to move the Oriental Boat Show to Hodges St. Meyers said he has already obtained and documented the support of 7 out of 8 of the businesses that would be affected. The Board asked for his paperwork to date and agreed to see him in October.

Both road closings were approved.

Auxiliary Boards: Non-resident requested, Whittaker Creek/Point meeting notes
Tree Board
Ken King, tree expert and long time tree board volunteer, has semi-retired from the board. Town Manager Miller said “He said he’s only got so much time left and he wants to go have fun.” With that in mind, Tree Board Chair Dr. Bob Miller has requested an amendment to the Tree Board Ordinance; that one non-resident be allowed to serve on the volunteer board. The board has been caring for trees outside the town jurisdiction (across the bridge) and has been operating with 7 volunteer members rather than the 6 stated in the ordinance.

Town Manager Miller and the Board of Commissioners approve the amendment, allowing one non-resident on the board and changing the number serving from 6 to 7.

Harbor Waterfronts Advisory Committee
The Harbor Waterfronts Advisory Committee (HWAC) takes care of the waterways in and around Oriental. They have submitted their meeting notes From April 30, 2018 through July 12, 2018. Along with usual HWAC interests, the notes outline much of the organization, research, and planning that has gone into the Whittaker Creek and Whittaker Point Projects. Lisa Thompson, HWAC Interim Chair thanked her volunteer board for the time and effort put into the restoration and dredging projects.

Commissioner Dianne Simmons commended the work of all the auxiliary board members, all of whom are volunteers, for the work they put into Oriental.

Town Reports
Manager’s Report
  • A request to decrease the speed limit on Highway 55 up to the Piggly Wiggly was sent to the NC Department of Transportation on July 19. According to her letter, this is the Town Manger’s third contact with the NCDOT Division Two Staff in an attempt to make the Highway 55 corridor to the Piggly Wiggly safe for golf carts, bikes, and pedestrians.
  • Office furniture will be removed/replaced August 21-22. Town Hall will be closed on these days. The phones may also be unavailable during this time. Miller says the desks and filing structures, originally built in by public works, will be removed and replaced. This is an expense that has been budgeted for three years and never completed until this year. Payments may be put into the drop box.

Police Report

  • There were several animal control calls, no animals were found to be rabid. Officer Nic Blayney asks that residents do not feed the wildlife. Two calls were about a deer and a fox acting strangely. As it turns out, the animals were waiting on vacationing home owners to return and feed them. Another call was from Town Manager Miller about moving a large snapping turtle from the road.

Dates to Know
  • The next Town Board Meeting will be Tuesday, September 5 at 7p.
  • Town Hall will be closed August 21-22.
Related Information

Posted Wednesday August 8, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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