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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

No easy solution for Carolina Beach’s aging boardwalk restrooms

Town Council agrees that the bathroom facilities could be in better shape, but a zoning ordinance prevents any major remolding from happening to the current facilities.

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk’s bathroom facilities are in need of attention, but what the town is able to do is limited thanks for development lines (Port City Daily photo/HANNAH LEYVA)

CAROLINA BEACH — Anyone who has spent some time in Carolina Beach at the Boardwalk has most likely at one point or another needed to use the public bathroom facilities provided by the town – but for those wondering when the facilities will see some upgrades, things aren’t as simple as they seem.

Town Council met Tuesday night for an information workshop and one of the topics of discussion was the state of current restroom facilities. While it might seem like a simple thing to upgrade, there is a reason the facilities have not seen significant upgrades or redevelopment: location.

The current facilities are located east of a line that has been deemed the development line, anything ocean-side of the line cannot be developed.

“One of the limiting factors of doing anything to the restrooms to the restrooms down at the Boardwalk is this red line. That is the development line, which means there is supposed to be no development east or ocean-side of that line,” Town Manager Michael Cramer said during a presentation.

The restrooms were installed before the development line was put in place, and the current restrooms are considered to be a non-conforming use, Cramer said.

While there is no simple solution to the bathroom situation at Carolina Beach, Town Council members all agreed that they are in need of some attention.

So, what can be done to the facilities located at the Boardwalk? The options are limited Cramer said, upgrades to the insides of the building could be completed, but in order to do any major construction the town would need to acquire a variance.

“It becomes very difficult in this area to do very much other than maybe change the look and feel inside the restrooms,” Cramer said.

There is also the possibility the town could acquire a new location for the purpose of building new facilities, but this would most likely mean the town would purchase privately owned property. In doing so, this would remove a piece of property that is providing revenue in the form of taxes.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, “For me, the simplest path is to take the existing structures and clean it up and make it nicer, and if we have to keep replacing fixtures because of vandalism I can’t help that. But it is in such sad shape … maybe some new tile, new paint, new light fixtures – it needs to be something where people feel comfortable going in there.”

Town Council did not make any decisions during the meeting, but upgrades to the facilities will likely come up during an official council meeting in the future.

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