Tim Cafferty to chair Dare County Tourism Board

Published 11:44 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

Agenda highlights of the Dare County Tourism Board meeting held in January included the election of officers and swearing in of new directors.

In the absence of a designated leader, the board’s legal counsel W. Jay Wheless opened the first 2023 Tourism Board meeting for members Mark Ballog from the Outer Banks Restaurant Association, Dare County commissioners Ervin Bateman, Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® representative Gray Berryman, at large member Tim Cafferty, Manteo commissioner Tod Clissold, Outer Banks Hotel/Motel Association representative Tonia Cohen, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce representative Richard Hess, Kitty Hawk councilman David Hines, Southern Shores councilman Leo Holland, Kill Devil Hills Mayor Pro Tempore Ivy Ingram and Hatteras Island at large representative Dennis Robinson. Two members, Nags Head Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Siers and Duck Mayor Pro Tempore Monica Thibodeau, were unable to attend.

Among the first agenda items for the day was election of officers, with Cafferty selected to be board chair, Thibodeau as vice chair, Bateman as treasurer, Ingram as assistant treasurer and Hines as secretary.

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With no one offering public comments, Bateman presented a treasurer’s report advising that the 2022 year ended 7.6 percent over the prior year’s actual receipt numbers.

He then explained that November actual receipts for occupancy were $185,251.27 and meals at $300,138.52 were a combined total of $237,038.81 above the 2021-22 figures, which is a 95 percent improvement. That brings year-to-date occupancy and meal receipts to 7.8 and 5.8 percent improvements, respectively, over prior fiscal year actuals.

Although retail collections for October appeared flat compared to October 2021, the numbers show a 6 percent year-to-date improvement. Overall, gross occupancy sales reported for November 2022 were up 63 percent compared to November 2021 and year-to-date gross occupancy is 6.8 percent higher than the prior year.

Other numbers show property management was up 73 percent, hotel/motel was up 48 percent and timeshare was up compared to a very low 2021 number with all other classes down.

Showing only a small increase over 2021, gross collections on retail sales for October were $10,371,192 which is $4,597 above the prior year total.

Other business for the day included a brief review of proposed development plans for the Soundside Event Site at 6800 South Croatan Highway in Nags Head by Cafferty and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau executive director Lee Nettles.

Cafferty pointed out that Dare County ranks fourth in the state for visitor spending behind Mecklenburg County, Asheville and Wake County.

“Most of you understand,” explained Cafferty, “there is no final building design, no operating plan, no policy on bookings, no rate structure in place and there is no funding. That is something we will have to work on this year, so all of this is conceptual.”

Nettles emphasized also that that there is no final design, adding that the focus so far has been more on functionality of the space.

Current plans in place propose an $18 million 48,275 sq. ft. multi-use indoor event center with about 580 parking spaces. A rough design sketch proposes a 26,000 sq. ft. event hall that could accommodate three full basketball courts, a 17,975 sq. ft. lobby with restrooms, 1,500 sq. ft. meeting room and a 2,800 sq. ft. kitchen and training area.

“When completed, the project is intended to serve as a recreational and entertainment facility for the community that will open up a number of new economic opportunities,” Nettles said. “The target audience is for groups of 300 to 2,500 for concerts, sports, meetings, smaller trade-shows, galas and any number of other event uses.”

He then pointed out that there is currently no large indoor facility on the Outer Banks for activities and the area has outgrown the existing facilities that are here.

Nettles said an Advisory Committee tried to develop a facility to benefit locals and visitors while keeping as much unobstructed view of the sound as possible.

The building size is a result of what it can be used for, not just how big it can be. The structure is planned to be located close to where the former Dairy Queen currently sits with a roughly 75 percent unobstructed view.

“Some folks refer to this as a convention center,” Nettles continued. “But convention centers are typically much larger and have a hotel attached. The one in Virginia Beach is about 10 times the size of what we are talking about here and a hotel would not be a good fit for the property nor the community even if one would fit on the property.”

Nettles went on to say that while meetings and conventions are a use, they are not a primary use, and that the Pamlico Jack’s building will go away since it would take too much money to make it usable.

A budget review for the project will likely take place in February along with a broader discussion on the project.

Included in Thursday’s meeting packet was a 2023 Soundside Event Site Schedule that includes:
● Outer Banks Bike Week, April 26-29;
● OBX Rod and Custom Festival, May 5-6;
● OBX Jeep Invasion, May 12-13;
● Soundside Fun Fair, June 8-11;
● Sumospeed Beach Bash, September 15-16;
● Fall OBX Bike Week, September 21-23;
● Garage Band Charities, October 6-7;
● Outer Banks Seafood Festival, Saturday, October 21;
● OBX Brewtag, Saturday, October 28;
● The Wall That Heals, November 13-18.

Also listed as tentative for each Friday is Sundown N Sound on May 26 and June 2, then again Friday June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28, August 4, 11, 18, 25 and a final date of Friday, September 1.

The meeting concluded with Cafferty advising that he would work on committee assignments. A board agreement to continue meeting at 9 a.m. in Manteo the third Thursday of each month making the regular meeting date schedule for the remainder of 2023: February 16, March 16, April 20, May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16 and December 21.