Saturday, April 1, 2023

Candidate interview: T. D. Scaringi, Carolina Beach mayoral candidate [Free read]

CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach has several candidates running for multiple positions including mayor as well as town council member.

Port City Daily has emailed all of the candidates a list of the same questions and will be publishing their answers throughout the week. Answers are unedited except for formatting.

There are four candidates running for mayor — a position that will be vacated by Joe Benson who is not running for reelection.

There are two spots on Town Council up for grabs with five candidates.

Why do you want to be Mayor?

I want to be Mayor of Carolina Beach because I believe my life experiences can help Carolina Beach. My leadership qualities, ability to rise to challenges, and my overall sense of honesty and fair play makes me the perfect candidate to represent the residents of our great town.

What are your priorities for Carolina Beach, what do you think needs to be addressed and what do you think the town currently does well?

My wife, Marilyn, and I bought our home here 5 years ago. We do not own rental properties or have a business on the island. I have nothing to gain when I vote yes or no on any given issue. We have seen many changes in the past 5 years. The infrastructure project has been completed of our street. New LED streets have been installed all over town. The downtown business district has been cleaned up and electrical lines moved below ground.

Other projects have not been successful. Lake dredging needs to be completed. The town is waiting for MOTSU’s permission to use their property to store the spoils from the lake. A person that I respect once told me that it is easier to keep someone’s trust than to try and regain it. MOTSU has other land use issues across the river. (Residential development along their railroad lines). Although these are two different issues, I believe their decision will be consistent and not allow either town access for storage or development. Carolina Beach needs to solve the lake-dredging situation themselves. I have a plan for that.

How would you like to see the issues at Freeman Park solved? (Erosion, overcrowding, land disputes with private owners)

Freeman Park. Carolina Beach’s cash cow. The park has been cut in half. Annual Freeman Park passes go on sale in December. I am not sure how beach erosion will affect ticket sales. Discussions with private owners seem to be the only way to plan for a renourishment project.

What are your plans to help solve parking woes? Would you consider a parking deck a viable option?

The Town of Carolina Beach sells parking passes to residents for $20.00 per year. This pass lets them park year-round in over 1000 town-monitored parking spaces. It seems that every vacant lot in the downtown area is becoming a private parking lot. Their hourly rate is $4.00 per hour and CB’s hourly rate is $2.50. Town permits are required to operate a private parking lot. The owners of these lots are land banking (lots increase in value over time) and making money on parking. They need a permit to operate a parking lot in downtown Carolina Beach. A condition to obtain a permit should require that private parking lots owners honor town parking passes year-round. The year-round town pass parking requirement would eliminate tow away possibilities in the off-season.

CB is in partnership with other lot owners. CB maintains these lots and shares the parking proceeds with the owners. We need more of these longer-term arrangements. (4 or 5-year minimum agreements)

With the firing of two town managers in a year, what qualities would you look for in a new manager? How could these issues be avoided in the future?

CB has historically given the town manager tremendous power. The town manager makes the agenda for the town council meetings. He/she hires and fires employees. He/she submits the budget. He/she must be vetted to be sure they have the experience they claim to have. I am a very good judge of character and look forward to interviewing town manager candidates. They should not be a friend of a friend, or I heard this person is good. ect. And yes we should use an agency to find these candidates.

How would you balance moving the town forward in terms of economy and new business/condos/homes and maintaining the ‘small town’ vibe of Carolina Beach?

We are very fortunate to live on such a beautiful island. Over the years the town government has focused on making Carolina Beach a tourist destination. Well, they have succeeded. Spending has been on the rise and the general fund has dwindled. Freeman Park income is uncertain. Taxes and utilities are increasing. Council members say yes to everything. It is time for all of this to change.

The town should no longer bow down to developers who submit building plans that do not meet building code requirements. When a building goes up, it will be there for a long time. Design, parking, and landscaping is what everyone will see. We can not give waivers to developers whose plans do not meet our code requirements. Developers must change their plans to comply with our codes. When Harris Teeter submitted plans to build on the island, they asked for reduced parking requirements and reduced landscaping. The town council said yes to their requests. Did they build? No.

Publix came wearing their big boy pants and built a beautiful building with landscaping and plenty of parking.

Town council should say no to developers who ask for waivers. Big boy developers will redesign their plans. The ones that don’t…we don’t need. Carolina Beach is on the map and other developers will fight for the opportunity to build here.

I don’t like being negative but, my 86-year-old mother came to visit. She was not impressed with the architecture along Lake Park Blvd. We rode around town and talked about how to beautify downtown. Kure Beach is an example of a house of a different color. All colors. That may work for them but not Carolina Beach. We need something more and it is a long term plan.

Downtown needs to have a fresh look. It needs a way to unify the building around the boardwalk and give it its own identity. Property owners, residents, and the Chamber of Commerce should decide on a color pallet for the buildings and overtime paint all the building with colors from that pallet. No blue building next to the red building next to the white building to the green building. Ect. Have something that flows, that unifies, that looks planned. Not all identical, something from the pallet. Trim can be unique to each property as long as it is from the chosen color pallet. Many of the properties need only the facades painted which can be done in a day or two. Sherwin Williams may help with computer-generated images to chose a color pallet. Painting of bigger building will make this a long term project.

Finally, Carolina Beach needs to slow down. Federal grant money is not free. It requires our money too. The Greenway is fantastic. The multi-use path on Cape Fear was also a worthwhile project. The federal grant money will be available in the future. We need to stop spending and build up our general fund in case we have another natural emergency.




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