Dare’s commissioners move some agenda items, stall others
Published 8:06 pm Monday, June 24, 2019
On Monday, June 17, Dare County’s Board of Commissioners took action on several matters but delayed resolution of two requests.
The board is moving ahead with two construction projects.
For the Health and Human Services building remodeling project, the commissioners approved the recommendation from the Capital Improvements Committee to hire Oakley Collier Architects, Raleigh, to provide architectural services for the project.
The project is estimated to cost $4.85 million and Oakley Collier’s fee will be 10 percent of that cost. The percentage is in line with other recent projects.
For the new College of The Albemarle campus, the commissioners again agreed with the committee and hired Boomerang Design with offices in Raleigh, Charlotte and Shelby.
County manager Robert L. Outten reported that the committee interviewed two highly qualified firms. Boomerang Design has experience in construction management at risk. The board authorized Outten to negotiate a contract.
The new $7.5 million campus will be built on the existing Roanoke Island campus site.
These two construction projects, the new animal shelter and two property purchases will be financed with limited obligation bonds, likely to be issued in 2020.
In a third project, Dare County will manage a one-time maintenance dredging project for Manteo (Shallowbag) Bay. The commissioners approved a contract with Aptim Coastal Planning & Engineering of North Carolina, Inc., for project management, environmental, geotechnical, engineering and bidding assistance services. The fee is $231,871. No county funds are involved in this project.
The board agreed to submit on behalf of Hatteras village a BUILD grant application for $1 million for construction of multi-use pathways to connect with the Hatteras ferry terminal and new passenger ferry. The Hatteras Village Community Building District is currently funding detailed planning for paved pathways in the NCDOT right-of way on NC 12 and Eagle Pass Road.
The full name of the federal program is Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant.
The board took no action on two matters.
During public comment, Bea Basnight, chair of the Dare County Board of Education, and Mary Ellon Ballance, vice chair, asked the commissioners to support a resolution requesting that elections for the Dare Board of Education be returned to non-partisan elections.
In 2017, legislation was introduced in the General Assembly to change elections for the Dare school board and others from non-partisan to partisan. At that time, both the school board and commissioners requested that Dare County be removed from the list. That request was not honored.
Under partisan elections, school board members are elected in November and take office in December, after almost half the school term. As a result, new school board members are at a disadvantage.
At the June 11 Dare school board meeting, the resolution requesting non-partisan elections was passed 6 to 1 with Joe Tauber voting no.
Commissioner Rob Ross said he wanted to hear the partisan election side before voting on a resolution. No action was taken by the commissioners.
In another education matter, Manny Maderios from Kitty Hawk spoke during public comment about the newly approved Five-Year Strategic Plan for Dare County Schools.
He said the plan was written to confound, uses “trendy buzz words,” and that no costs are shown. He said “oversight needs to be done by someone.”
The second no action concerned Timothy Jennette’s request to fill a ditch in Buxton.
Three property owners spoke in opposition, one in Manteo and two from Buxton. Jennette explained the project and Doug Dorman, an engineer, spoke on behalf of Jennette.
After the presentations, a clearly frustrated commissioner Rob Ross queried “what are the actual facts?”
Statements in dispute revolve around a culvert noted on one survey that runs under NC 12 (NCDOT couldn’t find it), flooding adjacent properties (may be an unintended consequence), and where stormwater goes (a hydrology study was suggested).
“People are not happy,” commented commissioner Ervin Bateman, who noted he had received a phone call.
The commissioners appointed Russ King, the manager of the Oregon Inlet Marina, to the Oregon Inlet Task Force, replacing Jed Dixon who resigned.
Outten announced that Dare County has received state funds to build the dredge and the commissioners authorized moving the funds into the 2019-20 budget.
Commissioner Jim Tobin said “this is an historic moment.” On June 14, 2018, Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation authorizing the dredge. One year, almost to the day, agreements are signed and a contractual obligation is in place to build a dredge.
Outten updated the board on the demolition of county-owned buildings in downtown Manteo. He said by the end of the month, all tenants will be off the site. East Coast Demolition is ready to demolish the structures, including the old county administration building on Budleigh St. and the old commissioners meeting room, a stand-alone building.