In my corner of Pine Knoll Shores (PKS) this week things were quiet. At Town Hall, I prepared a final draft of the PARC Survey, and three memos, all to be included in the board packet for next week’s Commissioners meeting. One of those memos is the request for a resiliency planning grant, which I also prepared this week in hopes the board will approve the application. The due date is just two days after the meeting, so if approved it needs to be ready to go. Both the PARC Survey and the Resiliency Evaluation and Needs Assessment (RENA) grant illustrate a unique feature of Pine Knoll Shores – many of the part-time residents support the town through their property taxes, but they do not vote in PKS.
Pine Knoll Shores prides itself on a natural environment, and its status as a Tree City USA. Tree lined streets, with suburban style homes, wind around the town. The larger, ocean front, vacation rental homes are less common. The year-round population – the voters – number less than 1,400 and in the summer the population swells to above 10,000. Many of these part-time residents, who own homes and pay taxes, do not rent out their homes. They are committed to PKS and active in the town and in their Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs).
The PKS Parks and Recreation Committee (PARC) issues a survey of residents every five years, and since it is distributed to all residents it provides an opportunity for non-voting property owners to express their point of view. Questions related to sidewalk implementation and how projects such as sidewalks or public access to the sound should be funded are included in the survey, in addition to more general questions regarding recreational preferences. HOAs provide recreation services to their residents, and the home owners pay fees to their HOAs. So, they are unlikely to support an increase in taxes to fund recreational activities. Sidewalks, though, need to be built and managed by the town.
Sidewalks are the responsibility of the public services department (even though they show up in a PARC Survey) and are few and far between in PKS. Salter Path Road (NC Highway 58) is the main road running through PKS and it runs the length of the barrier island. At one end is Atlantic Beach and at the other is Emerald Isle. Those municipalities both have sidewalks or bike paths running the full length of their Hwy 58 frontage. In the 2012 PARC Survey a majority of respondents expressed a preference for building sidewalks. Since so many of the homes are on the sound side of Hwy 58 sidewalks would provide a safer, more healthy way of getting around town and to the beach. Even with the community support for sidewalks, only .3 out of 4.5 miles have been built. The BOC did not vote to fund more sidewalks. The opposing view, that sidewalks will degrade the natural environment of the community and lead to increased tourist traffic, predominated for the elected officials.
I hope the RENA grant I prepared will go through and I think it has a good chance. It would support an engineering study and community engagement focused on storm water drainage and flooding resiliency. This need is understood as important to most PKS residents; however, as funding that supports government, it could be seen as undesirable.