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Kill Devil Hills dreams big for Baum Tract recreation

The mood was optimistic at the May 10 Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners meeting as the group brainstormed for the future and spontaneously commended town employees.

Assistant planning director Cameron Ray shared the ideas of the West-side Recreation Group for expanded facilities and services on the 44-acre Baum Tract. “It’s always great to bring in so much community input when it comes to big opportunities like this,” said Mayor Ben Sproul.

Based on suggestions from surveys from over 400 residents, the group made the following recommendations for future amenities in a May 10 memo from commissioner Terry Gray to the Board of Commissioners: permanent restrooms to serve the facility, Run Hill State Park and Camp S.A.L.T.; shoreline access with kayak launch, boardwalk, fishing pier and covered gazebo; incorporate walking trail/greenways within existing disc golf course, including lookouts and benches; incorporate outdoor education into park layout; incorporate access road to shoreline for drop off location for paddle sports, turn around area and emergency services access; explore relocating current mulching operation; explore entrance/walkway in association with planned unit development Burmuda Bay to the east; install pet waste station; explore Run Hill State Park entrance/trailhead; create KDH Baum Tract trailhead/park entry to access site amenities (signage, paths, shoreline access, etc.); and explore an outdoor nature center to include area for outdoor education, restrooms and nature porch (sustainable/off-grid construction).

The West-Side Recreation Group also came up with SISPC review for projects considerations at future meetings to assist with Baum Tract improvements: connect greenway to multi-use path that connects to First Flight Schools, Aviation Park, Town Hall, Dare County Parks and Recreation and Wright Brothers Monument (Centennial Path); improve the parking lot to include additional/sufficient parking; and improve the road from Veterans Drive to the site.

“We have a beautiful shoreline to our west that’s actually hard to access for most folks unless you live in certain areas, so we can kind of unlock that wonderful community asset in a way more people can enjoy,” said Sproul. “It is a noble cause and one of the more exciting and fun things about helping steward this forward in a way we can all be excited about.”

The West-side Recreation Group suggested to the commissioners to update the recreation facilities plan from 2004. The purpose of the plan is to plan amenities based on community needs and recreation trends. “We have used this as a tool to look at what we currently have,” Ray said. “A lot of improvements in the plan have been done, but it needs to be updated.” The motion to consider updating the plan passed.

In the commissioner reports portion of the agenda, news was shared about the “Kick Butt Campaign,” which prepares and assembles cigarette butt receptacles and then places them in selected locations. The project was originally an Eagle Scout project and the Boy Scout Troop 116 will be helping with the project. The community is invited to attend May 22 at 9 a.m. at Aviation Park.

Commissioner John Windley shared a story that brought laughs from the commissioners: “There’s one particular member of our team that deserves special recognition. Last Tuesday at 1 in the afternoon I was heading south on 12 and I noticed brand new, beautiful pavement – perfect – and I was right about to turn left when the most well-dressed construction worker I’ve ever seen came out of nowhere, jumped in front of my car, waving his hands and said ‘Stop! This is my road, this is brand new. It’s too hot – this is my baby, don’t mess it up.’ It was our town engineer Pete Burkhimer, directing cars. By any means necessary, we have a committed town engineer, to take that upon himself.”

Sproul added, “I see him out on every project, keeping a close eye, making sure it’s done right.”

As the commissioners reviewed the consent agenda, Gray commended leaders for efficiency throughout the departments: “The average response time for fire departments is five minutes, twenty seconds. We’re at four minutes, eight seconds. The fire department is doing an outstanding job. I wanted to highlight that. One of the reasons is because of the training that they do. There’s a huge increase in the training hours the fire department has done and I think that’s a good thing – it keeps them all up to speed. They’ve had a 31 percent increase in dispatched calls and they’re still doing it with the same people and that means they’re working hard and doing a great job. Hats off. I know how hard it is to keep that bar going and keep that level of service going. The planning department had 950 new inspections, which is about a 50 percent increase for them and they’re doing it with the same people. The bottom line is that I think we need to tell the town manager that she’s doing a great job with personnel. It’s really efficient. I’ve been on the board a couple times and I don’t think I’ve seen it this efficient. Hats off to you guys.”

Sproul shared three proclamations for the Month of May: Peace Officer’s Week, Beach Safety Week and Hurricane Preparedness Week. “We are trying to keep everyone safe as we head into the summer season,” he said.

The board appointed Ron Seidman and Toni Dorn as regular members of the Board of Adjustment and Blake Culpepper as an alternate, as well as appointed Christine Stafford and Temple Heggie to the Dangerous Animal Appeals Board.

Town manager Debora Diaz presented the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 and scheduled a budget work session May 26 and a public hearing June 14 to discuss the budget.

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