Nags Head discusses Whalebone Park updates, rain garden at Town Hall

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

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Senior environmental planner Kate Jones asked Nags Head commissioners what recreational elements they’d like to see at Whalebone Park.

The park, located at 7300 S Virginia Dare Trail between the highway and the beach road just south of Jennette’s Pier, has needed updating for some time. The park is underutilized due to lack of shade and some broken play structures, though currently it offers a bocce ball court, volleyball court and a horseshoe area.

Commissioners agreed that the park needs bathrooms and updated playground equipment. The consensus during the brainstorming session was to gear the park toward young families. Possible features included a splash pad and additional shaded areas, both in close proximity to restrooms.

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A splash pad or “spray play” area was appealing to commissioners, as it would give families a place to be outside on warm days if the ocean was rough, and because it’s a unique feature in the Outer Banks.

“We don’t need a miniature Dowdy [Park],” said Mayor Ben Cahoon of the park plans. “It needs to be its own kind of unique thing.”

The town is applying for funds from the North Carolina Park and Recreation Trust Fund for the renovations. The deadline is May 2 and town staff are busily putting together conceptual designs. Town staff welcomes feedback from the public.

Next, Jones gave a presentation on the rain garden that the town will construct at the Town Hall Administrative Building following the approval of a $2500 grant from the Dare County Soil and Water Community Conservation Assistance Program. The program is a cost share, so Nags Head will contribute a portion to the project as well.

Jones suggested adding gutters on the southwestern section of the building to reduce some of the stormwater that currently drains onto Highway 150 and the parking lot. The town is considering different types of gutters at different price points: copper, aluminum or standard. The plan is for 70 linear feet of 6” half round and two downspouts. The cost to the town, after applying a portion of the grant funds, would be: copper ($8747); aluminum ($5696); or standard ($2200).

Jones stated that the copper gutters have a significantly longer lifespan than the other options. Commissioner Renee Cahoon responded, “I’d rather spend money on a better long term investment.”

The water would flow down to an actual rain garden, featuring plants that could use the stormwater, as well as hardy plants that could survive during dry times. Mayor Ben Cahoon suggested adding an interpretive element to the garden that would explain the rain garden system and the different types of plants.