Dare commissioners hear water system and property purchase issues

Published 11:47 am Sunday, November 10, 2019

Monday morning, November 4, citizens speaking at the Dare County Board of Commissioners brought up issues with two agenda items.

Four property owners from Leslie Lane in Avon said the Dare County water system proposal for hooking up to the system was too expensive.

Initially, an estimate was calculated that pegged the cost at $1,136 for each of the 24 properties along Leslie Lane. The official bid for the project put the per property cost at $5,136.36.

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Jai Mastro said “I can’t afford that.”

Dare’s water system operates as an enterprise account and is funded through revenue generated by water use. Adding Leslie Lane is scheduled for 2025 in the system’s capital improvement plan. The costs would still be assessed against the properties. Part of the project is installing a fire hydrant.

The item on the agenda for commissioners’ approval was a final assessment resolution, which includes financing terms of seven year payback and five percent interest.

County manager Robert L. Outten listed three options: not do the project, move forward or somehow subsidize the project out of the water fund.

Outten suggested not adopting the resolution, but instead meet with the property owners. Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard agreed with that suggestion.

The second item to draw criticism was the proposed purchase of Pamlico Jack’s Restaurant, which is contiguous with the Dare County Tourism Board’s Soundside Event Site in Nags Head.

Dare’s commissioners must consent to the action, which calls for a $3.1 million purchase price and $50,000 in closing costs.

Charlie Parker from Kill Devil Hills criticized the project based on his reading of the consultant’s report. He said “things just don’t add up for me.”

He avowed, “if you can make money on a hotel and convention center, someone would have built it already.”

Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, responded to questions raised by Parker and asked by commissioners.

The restaurant purchase adds immediately available 125 parking sites and indoor space, which must be switched from restaurant use. The Tourism Board has had no discussion about expanding to the north beyond Pamlico Jack’s.

Nettles verified that the consultant’s report said an event center would lose $250,000 annually. The deficit would be covered by the Tourism Board. It is projected the center would generate $12 million directly and up to $20 million with indirect visitor spending.

The consultant’s report provided three suggestions, two of which involved a public-private hotel.

Commissioner Jim Tobin said he was not opposed to getting the land, but he wanted to see a plan and exact numbers. He also asked Nettles about the Town of Nags Head request to be reimbursed for its contribution to purchase the original track for the event site. Nettles responded that it is the intent of the Tourism Board to buy out the town’s interest.

An advisory committee for the event site has been appointed by the Tourism Board. Members are Webb Fuller, Nags Head commissioner; Rob Ross, Dare County commissioner; Nettles; Myra Ladd-Bone; Ralph Buxton; Ben Cahoon; Tanya Cohen and Mike Dianna.

The commissioners gave unanimous consent for the purchase.



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