Tourism Board sets focus for Event Site Advisory Committee

Published 5:55 am Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Action items during the Thursday, November 21 meeting of the Dare County Tourism Board included approving an area of focus for its Event Site Advisory Committee, awarding several Tourism Impact Grants and receiving a fiscal year 2019 audit report.

With an agreement for the Tourism Board to buy the Pamlico Jack’s Restaurant site in its final stages, Dare County Tourism Board executive director Lee Nettles said it is important for an advisory committee to have some type of focus when it meets December 3.

The lack of convention space in Dare County has often been cited as a tourism liability. Adding the restaurant site at 6708 South Croatan Highway in Nags Head to its existing Event Site property next door will give the Tourism Board a tract of land in excess of 26 acres overlooking the Roanoke Sound.

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In order to determine just what property uses might exist that will help boost the area’s tourism economy, the Tourism Board established an eight-member committee of local business leaders.

To point the committee in that direction, board members voted to have the committee look at how to develop an economically viable Event Center capable of hosting groups of 300 and larger with a primary goal of growing overnight visitation during off-season months.

In addition to looking at how the Pamlico Jack’s property will fit the overall tourism picture, the committee will also consider the benefits of buying out the Town of Nags Head’s interest in the Event Site and how best to use the former South Beach Grille property, which the Tourism Board also owns.

During discussions on the former South Beach Grille property, it was generally agreed that the existing structure is not safe to use and should be demolished.

Also on the table for consideration is looking at requesting engineering and design services for a soundside boardwalk.

“They’re going to be getting their heads around it,” said Nettles when asked about the committee’s focus. “And it could be that they will want to broaden the scope or they may want to be more precisely focused.”

The committee is scheduled to meet December 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Also on the day’s agenda was consideration for awarding $851,002 in Tourism Impact Grants.

After a brief discussion on the process and that there were requests for more money that what was available, the Tourism Board voted to approve:

– $25,750 to Frisco Native American Museum for increased handicapped access in several areas of the museum and outdoor facilities.
– $48,000 to the Chicamacomico Historical Assoc. to completely replace deteriorated cistern roofs and painting of all outside surfaces.
– $55,618 to Kill Devil Hills for about 1,848 linear feet of sidewalk work around Centennial Path and from Sixth Avenue along West Baum Street to Fox Street and along Fox to Mustian.
– $90,950 to a Dare County Arts Council courtyard renovation project for outdoor lighting, wheelchair accessibility, permanent seating and linkage to neighboring sidewalks and building entrances.
– $147,806 to Duck for pedestrian improvements that include the construction sidewalk and landscape buffer strip on the west side of NC12 from Resort Realty to Sunset Raw Bar and Grille.
– $221,885 to Manteo for parking and a green space park area in Downtown Manteo at Budleigh Street and Lord Essex Avenue.
– $260,993 to Southern Shores for construction of a sidewalk along South Dogwood Trail connecting two walking trails already in place along East Dogwood Trail and along the southern half of South Dogwood Trail which will complete the walking trails from Kitty Hawk Elementary School to NC Highway 12.

Also on hand with an audit presentation was Jonathan Dail with the accounting and consulting firm Johnson, Mizelle, Straub and Murphy, LLP in Kitty Hawk.

According to Dail, the Tourism Board financial records for the fiscal year that ended June 30 appear to be free of any material misstatements and are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Some of the financial highlights include:

– total revenues of $8,675,280, up from $7,856,195 in 2018;
– collection of $7,745,409 for occupancy and prepared food and beverage tax revenues, the primary funding source for the board, which is an increase of $247,810 over the previous year’s total;
– an unassigned General Fund balance of $5,531,077 or 98.2 percent of total general fund expenditures for the fiscal year;
– total expenses of $7,508,838.

Dail said the Tourism Board audit received an unmodified opinion, the best and highest rating possible.

During public comments, Mark Dowdle, deputy superintendent for the National Park Service Outer Banks Group, said Park Service visitation has been up over the numbers for last year even with several challenges, including adverse weather and road construction in some areas of the park.

event site advisory committee

Mark Dowdle, deputy superintendent for the National Park Service Outer Banks Group. Philip S. Ruckle Jr. photo

Dowdle went on to say several campgrounds other than Ocracoke are still open and that Oregon Inlet Campground will remain open throughout the winter.

He added that December 17 will be the 116th anniversary of the first powered flight. Events that day start at 9:30 a.m. That will be a fee free day and in 2020 there will be six fee free days.

The next Tourism Board meeting will be at 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, December 19.