Letter to the Editor: Time to eat ‘a little’ crow and raise taxes

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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To the Editor:

What an interesting term “eating crow” is. If you’ve never heard it used, it’s explained to be part of the group of sayings that begrudgingly admits someone was wrong. Along the path of “I’ll eat my words, or my hat …” So it’s time I ate a little crow.

Earlier in The Coastland Times, don’t remember exactly when, I was very wordy in saying the new blown-in beach in Southern Shores was not necessary, that it was better to leave it. However now, having made the hike over the dune enough, and seen the exposed bars at low tides and the small hill that seems to form like a small hump at the drop off to the ocean, we’ve really got a totally new experience out there.

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Pardon my change of perspective, now, having seen my grandkids, family and friends enjoying the exposed areas, the blown-in beach is a new place. If it’s only here a while then it still was nice. So I eat crow while the beach giveth and the beach taketh away.

Not unlike the mighty discussions that continue re “housing” in each separate town. As I recall the beach blow-in was funded in part by the towns, county, and “other” groups who financially benefitted. But the same crews have NOT set up a workable solution to providing housing (affordable, cluster, whatever) that a typical family or supporter of the many services (schools, EMS, hospitality, etc.) can afford without finding Blackbeard’s hidden treasure (or family support).

This continuing “saga” (no pun intended) has been nicely explained in a well-researched series of three articles recently included in The Coastland Times written by Summer Stevens. The articles cover the history, the needs, challenges, and commitments of the many well-intentioned efforts that have evolved with the developmental saturation in the OBX. Better yet, in the third article of the series, Ms. Stevens leads the “elephant in the room” up on the pedestal and makes it stand on one leg to provide a workable solution.

She treats the elephant nicely and offers what sound like to me blinding glimpses of the obvious. In a letter to the editor comment from Ross K. in The Coastland Times article he affirms “I wonder why the city/county managers do not take a more unified regional approach”. Key word – “unified.”

Ms. Stevens, in Part 3, quotes Jody C. who “believes that a critical part of the solution involves the collaboration of the county and the six municipalities.” Even a perceptive man in a letter to the editor innocently affirms: “I wonder why the city/county managers do not take a more unified regional approach in advising their employers (elected bodies) of solutions following public input sessions …”

If you read Ms. Stevens’ housing series you get a concise summary of the state of housing on the OBX. But you also get a mother lode of common sense paths that could start action plans to potentially achieve real change. Words like “housing authority,” “infrastructure,” “start processes,” “nostalgic,” and yes the words “raised taxes” are even in the series as an action by Nags Head to fund their new “public services complex and water metering system.”

The series in a very straightforward plea asks all the OBX to work together, and I’d suggest if there’s not a line on each town’s budget called “emergency housing/infrastructure” let’s reappropriate or consider raising tax generated money for the new budget line now.

We’ve got a new experience on the blown-in beaches, and a renewed opportunity to think as Ms. Stevens’ quote of Jody C. affirms “out of the box” (viva the 1980s) regarding whatever you want to call the OBX housing challenge. We’ve been talking about it for ??, each town acting in “some” direction; let’s put a stake in the sand or mud and a line on each budget and work together to put an emergency housing team together that has emergency powers to develop both long term goals, and short term emergency actions.

Nostalgically speaking, I miss the Casino, but before another shopping center gets live oaks cut for some idea of need, I’d suggest every new development be evaluated against why that area couldn’t provide some format for a functional and aesthetically appealing town opportunity (a park could work). Same for sale of existing real estate, evaluate said parcel for “emergency housing” (including beachfront).

Get a life, right?

While living in the past is non-productive, continued discussion without immediate action is negligence.

(Read Ms. Stevens’ series of articles if you want to be educated.)

Russ Watkins
Southern Shores