Local kayakers now have a new spot to launch from in Brunswick County.
This week, a public launch was unveiled at William S. “Bill” Smith Park in Oak Island. According to officials, it is the first Americans with Disability Act-compliant kayak launch in Brunswick County. A bench with pop-out shelves – one higher up at canoe height and one lower for kayaks – allows those in wheelchairs to move from their chairs to their watercraft.
The park, which is part of the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department, sits on a small creek off the bigger Dutchman Creek, which leads to the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s location on the tributary makes it safer for launching as it is protected from the wind and boat wakes that come from the Intracoastal.
“The mission of the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department is that we have committed to providing recreation and community service in the broadest possible scope to meet the recreational, cultural, human service needs and interest of people of all ages and abilities,” said Rebecca Squires, the director of the department. “For many, many years, it has been a goal of the Oak Island Town Council and the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department to build water access here at Smith Park … I have no doubt that it will be used and enjoyed for many, many years to come.”
The kayak launch and the wooden area that leads to it, which people can use to fish from, was made possible through a Coastal Area Management Act grant administered through the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.
The ribbon-cutting event was organized by students from South Brunswick High School’s Project Management 2 class, which helps give students real-life experience in organization and management through community-based projects.
“We worked with the town within the parameters that we need for our program and our service learning project to organize the event with the speakers, the food, and everything else,” said Amy Byers, South Brunswick High School’s project management teacher. “This class really teaches life skills that the students can use because they learn how to manage projects that have budgets, schedules, and several people involved. It puts them in the real world and puts the fundaments that they learned to good use through community service.”
Smith Park is located at 4446 Fish Factory Road SE near the border of Southport and Oak Island. The kayak launch is open to the public to use free of charge, and there is designated parking near the launch for vehicles with kayaks