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Nags Head honors former public works director Ralph Barile

A crowd gathered at the July 7 Nags Head commissioners meeting to recognize planning department zoning administrator Margaux Kerr for five years of service, planning department code compliance officer Ed Snyder for five years of service and public information officer Roberta Thuman for 20 years of service.

Former public works director Ralph Barile was presented with a plaque and a certificate of appreciation for his service to the Town of Nags Head since 1982. Barile was also presented “with the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest award granted by the State of North Carolina to individuals who have shown extraordinary service to our state,” read a statement from the Town of Nags Head. “Ralph began his career in 1982 as a street laborer and rose through the ranks to lead the Town’s public works department.”

Police Chief Phil Webster invited the public to National Night Out on August 3, a nationwide crime, violence and drug prevention program when the town will join together with thousands of towns throughout the country to promote the program. According to a proclamation signed by Mayor Ben Cahoon: “It is essential that all citizens of the Town of Nags Head be aware of the importance of crime programs and the impact that their participation can have on reducing crime, drug and violence in the Town of Nags Head.”

Next, the board heard reports and recommendations from Zehner. The first was related to the sign ordinance update project, but commissioners decided the discussion and the updates are not a priority at this time. The second involved the board’s request from the community for housing for the seasonal workforce. While thankful, the board agreed that the three responses received were not what they were looking for.

The LED street lighting discussion continued, with Zehner suggesting an amber-colored LED demo in the six or seven locations where streetlights are visible from the beach.  The amber lights are designed to be more “sea turtle friendly” (upon hatching, artificial light can lead sea turtles away from the ocean).

Zehner then shared the status of the grant application for $200,000 to improve the Epstein public beach access by replacing the bath house and dune walkover with ADA compliant surface. The grant is sponsored by Division of Coastal Management’s (“DCM”) Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Grant Program. A public hearing is scheduled for the August commissioner’s meeting.

Next on the agenda, the deputy town manager presented an extensive report on beach driving, requested by commissioner Fuller at a prior meeting to address the conflict between beach-goers and those wanting to drive on the beach. Garman reported that there have been no changes to the ordinance since the 1970s. “Beach driving is one of the cherished activities in Nags Head,” Garman said.

He suggested that commissioners look into collecting data in the offseason, as well as look at data after the current season before making any changes, though most in the room agreed that the current speed limit of 25 mph is probably too high. The group agreed that 15 mph may be a safer speed. Other considerations may be driving closures in areas where seasonal population is high.

The beach driving discussion was followed by a request for a fee increase from town attorney John Leidy for his services, from $2300 per month to $2600 for the monthly retainer and from $190 to $220 for the blended hourly rate. The request was approved.

Next, Brian Joyner with the engineering firm Moffat & Nichol presented the Year 1 findings of the town’s Multi-Decadal Master Plan for beach nourishment including, according to the firm’s report, “additional field investigations, engineers, and modeling needed to progress the engineering side of the Master Plan” and submitted a fee proposal for the completion of the balance of the Year 2 work, totaling $1,737,907.

Three actions were presented and passed, allowing the interim town manager to implement the Year 2 plan; approving the capital project master plan ordinance amendment, with removal of redundant language in section six; and approving a budget amendment.

In the commissioner’s agenda portion of the meeting, Renee Cahoon brought up the safety issues at Gray Eagle Street between NC-12 and 158 and suggested that the board request DOT to perform a traffic study. Similarly, Siers mentioned the safety hazard at Old Oregon Inlet near Sam and Omie’s. “There should not be a left turn, there’s too much speed at that intersection.”

In other matters, Siers brought up the issue of large home safety concerns, following the large house fire in Kill Devil Hills. Commissioners discussed possible options such as mandatory sprinkler systems for large homes and emergency exit lighting and agreed to form a small task force to begin the conversation.

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