Dare agrees to infrastructure upgrades and replacements; commenters want more for pickleball

Published 2:53 pm Saturday, September 17, 2022

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Dare commissioners unanimously adopted a capital improvements plan and financing package for emergency medical system stations, for two public works facilities, a youth center in Manteo and a multiple projects for Parks and Recreation facilities.

For all the projects, limited obligation bonds will be issued.

In 2023-24, three bond issues will be issued to fund the Emergency Medical Services station replacements or upgrades. Total for this department’s projects is $59,443,492.

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The Emergency Medical Services Phase 1 schedule calls for facilities in Southern Shores, Kill Devil Hills and a new hangar for Dare Medflight start construction in February 2023. Phase II includes Manteo, Buxton/Frisco and Manns Harbor stations starting construction in February 2024. The final phase includes Chicamacomico Banks and Kitty Hawk, for which there is no schedule.

A new Manteo Youth Center is included in Phase II, with a cost for the center estimated at $1.7 million.

In 2024-25, bonds totaling $33,749,992 will rework the Public Works facilities outside Manteo and in Buxton.

In 2028-2029, a Parks and Recreation capital improvement program will be funded with $27,682,245 in limited obligation bonds.

At the Sept. 6 Board of Commissioners meeting, the Parks and Recreation plan met with criticism. Seven people came to the podium to talk about funding for pickleball, the fastest growing sport in the country.

Pickleball is a casual sport designed for people of all ages to play.

The department’s plan developed by Oakley Collier Architects calls for building two courts at $150,000 and ADA-accessible toilets required at all locations with courts and a storage area for $150,000, making construction cost $300,000. In the plan budget, design fees, general contractor profit and contingency add up to $153,000, for a total project cost of $453,600.

Commenter George Barr said the county could get eight courts for the same amount of money.

Sandy Briggman lobbied for more recreational opportunities for adults and for pickleball. Indoor facilities are open only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, which limits use by working adults. She asked why can’t volunteers work to open the facilities at night and on weekends?

She also told the commissioners that the women’s restroom at Kill Devil Hills has mold and has huge chunks of wallpaper peeling off.

Dave Briggman estimated that some 300 people play pickleball with most on the northern beaches. “We can’t wait 2, 3, 4 years down the road. Now is the time to change the budget …”

Scott Morton lobbied for funding employees to keep facilities open at night. He pegged the annual cost at $15,000 “very minimal funds.”

Scott Garber charged that the commissioners were not addressing citizen needs. He objected to the 2028 timeline.

Geoff Fountain promoted pickleball. “It a sport for everyone. A great community builder.” He urged the commissioners to explore other communities, particularly about using volunteers to open facilities at night.

The capital improvements plan was listed late in the agenda.

Board Chairman Robert L. Woodard chose the time before commissioner comments to respond to the public commenters.

He thanked them for speaking. He commended to the board that it is “incredible what we have accomplished.”

Woodard said he was infuriated. He said the county had six pickleball courts. Residents could play pickleball 38 hours per day at county facilities.