Monday, March 4, 2024

Update: Freeman Park rule changes face criticism from park regulars

Freeman Park passes will become available Dec. 1 with an early bird pass running through Dec. 15. (Port City Daily / FILE PHOTO)
Freeman Park rule changes are facing backlash from beachgoers (Port City Daily / FILE PHOTO)

Update Jan. 10: The Town Council held a public hearing Tuesday night which brought dozens of residents to voice their concerns on the proposed changes. The Town Council decided to table the discussion until a future workshop without making any changes to park rules.

CAROLINA BEACH — Proposed rule changes to Carolina Beach’s Freeman Park that were suggested during a November Town Council meeting is facing some criticism from park regulars – specifically some of the local off-road clubs.

Dave Robbins, a member of several off-road groups and a frequent visitor to Freeman Park said he was mostly concerned with the suggested rule that would require all park visitors to vacate the north end of the park at night.

Previous discussions during the Town Council workshop Town Manager Michael Cramer presented the council with a number of problems facing the park including excess trash. Other issues have also been raised, like vandalism to toilets occurring on the north end of the park.

Robbins said that while he understands there are some issues with vandalism, for as much as he uses the park he has not noticed these problems to the degree stated. He also said he believes the vandalism is a mismanagement issue, especially since places like Fort Fisher, which is cheaper to access and larger, does not have the same problems.

Cramer also admitted there have been two different mentalities between the south and north ends.

Freeman Park’s Zone 18 during high tide. Photo courtesy Town of Carolina Beach.

“You’ve had a long history on the south end of a strong enforcement mentality, you’ve had on the north end very lose enforcement and a very ‘Wild West’ type mentality,” Cramer said.

If passed, the new rules would remove all campsites from zones two and three and all visitors to the park would be required to vacate the north side of the park by 11 p.m. Robbins said he believes 11 p.m. is too early to force people off the beach, and said he hopes the beach will be open to everyone regardless of the time.

Another change would require all pay by the day vehicles to be removed from the parking lot by 10 p.m. each night, instead of the previous requirement to vacate by 8 a.m. on the following morning.

Carolina Beach’s Town Council will meet on Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes – an event has already been created on Facebook according to Robbins, and so far about 60 people have committed to attending the meeting.

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