Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Three incumbents run unopposed for Kure Beach Town Council [Free read]

(Left) Kure Beach Mayor Pro Tem David Heglar, (center) Councilman Joseph Whitley, and Mayor Craig Bloszinsky listen to audience questions at the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce's political forum Thursday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
(Left) Kure Beach Mayor Pro Tem David Heglar, (center) Councilman Joseph Whitley, and Mayor Craig Bloszinsky listen to audience questions at the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce’s political forum Thursday. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

KURE BEACH — Three seats, three incumbents, and three candidates. It seems this year’s election will be a shoo-in for Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky, Mayor Pro Tem David Heglar, and Commissioner Joseph Whitley.

Regardless, the three candidates participated in Visions & Views 2019, a political forum hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and moderated by the Island Gazette and Port City Daily.

Related: Video Recap: Mayor and council candidates make their pitch at Carolina Beach forum [Free read]

A transcript of the forum appears below, with minor edits for clarity:

Candidate intros

Craig Blozinsky: I’m Craig Blozinsky. I know most of the people in this room. I guess what I would say is I’ve been part of the family here at Kure Beach since 2001 when we bought our first vacation home. After that time we went ahead and I retired — at least I thought I did.

In 2011 I retired from IBM after 30 years. So a lot of, a lot of management type of experience, a lot of education, not only at Penn State, but also at IBM. And then of course 47 years of experience of trying to navigate that woman in the back, my wife Ruthie. And a few shorter years to that time to manage my daughter Amy, who’s back there.

So that’s when I came here. I started in a variety of volunteer positions. I was in volunteer positions for the town for about approximately two years and which point I then ran for Council. I was fortunate enough to be unopposed that time. And did this council Dean was the mayor at the time and he asked me to be Mayor Pro Tem, so for four years I was Mayor Pro Tem. And then the last election for Mayor when Emily left us and the rest is history. I guess we’re talking about the rest of that as questions.

David Heglar: My name is Dave Heglar. I grew up in Kure Beach, so I’ve been here for 54 years now. Very fortunate to grow up in a small town that I want to keep a small town I know we all want to keep it a small town. I’ve watched a change from a small fishing village that had 300 people in the wintertime from when I was a kid to what is now all the northern part of town was the woods that I played in grew up in. My background is I went to N.C. State, got an electrical engineering degree, joined the United States Navy and rode submarines for five years. Retired from the Reserves with 31 years in 2017. I got out and there were no jobs in New Hanover County so I could come home, so I lived for three years when my wife who’s in the back, my beautiful bride, Lisa.

In Greensboro, North Carolina working for a manufacturing firm, until Corning was expanded in 1996. I moved back home. I’ve been here since then. Soon as I got back, I was at family dinner and my grandfather and father said didn’t you do fire training in the Navy? And so that’s how I ended up at the fire department. And then in 1998, there was an election that had an unopposed Council, which I didn’t think was right. So I registered, or I signed up to run. Lost, handily. Learned a lot — the Council, the commissioners that did get elected, specifically Jack Foster kind of came out and talked to me and mentored me about if you really want to get involved, you need to do some stuff different. And so I did, and then got elected with Jim Dugan in the next election 2000 and 2001. I started one full term then got deployed with the United States Navy for a year in 2007, came back, and this is I guess my fourth term, if I get reelected.

I’m just very fortunate to be on a really good team working with really great department heads, and a really good community for the betterment of our town. I look forward to keeping on working on it.

Joseph Whitley: My name is Joseph Whitley, I’ve been on Council for the past four years. My background is, I went to N.C. State University also, with a degree in history and political science. So obviously, I work in IT.

Being up here with this Council, I have learned a tremendous amount because we definitely have a great town staff. From the hurricane to the things we do town staff is phenomenal. We have a great group of individuals up here that serve on this Council. We work well together, for the most part. We don’t disagree at all. We never show it if we do.

It has been one of the biggest honors of my life because I learned a great amount and it has been very important. We are running unopposed, which tells me one of two things. There’s 2,400 people in this town way smarter than we are here. They did not put their name in the hat or that they have we have built their trust and their confidence to move forward. That they agree with — I hope they do for the most part — with the direction we have taken the town the past two years, and the direction we will move in the next two years. So I hope that might be the case.

Parking

After the first year of the Green Space Parking Plan, do you plan to continue to allow parking in the green spaces? And would you consider building a parking structure in Kure Beach to allow these areas to revert back to their natural state?

Blozinsky: No. I think that’s pretty clear. But there’s a few reasons for that. First of all, the contiguous space that that will take over that town area really just is hardly available. Secondly, as we looked at that alternative, each space on a structure about three stories needed to carry vehicles would cost about $24,000 of space. It’s just too expensive to approach parking with a parking deck arrangement. Now the parking is hot on our list. It is hot on our list for two reasons. I believe that we have accomplished what we started out to which is managing parking in the last year. We put out 140 new bumpers, we had every place marked. We’ve probably issued I regret to say a few hundred tickets for people who did not park properly.

Heglar: So one, I agree totally with Craig, the town not going to build a parking space. And I think over the next 10 or 15 years with automatic cars and Uber and all the technology changes all the — no one’s going to be building parking spaces, because parking spaces are going to go away in the long term. Our Town is very fortunate and none of our budget depends on our parking revenues. I think the towns that are building their budgets off revenues are going to have a big problem in the future. And If you read any literature about how transportation is growing, those spaces and downtown’s that are revenue generators, towns, hopefully will do something really cool with them. In Kure Beach, the green spaces you’re talking about or medians, they’re not really green spaces. They’re in between roads. So it’s not like we carved out beautiful areas and turn them into parking lots. People were parking in those areas already. So it’s not like we changed what was happening, we just formalized it a little more. And I think with Craig, what we said is exactly right, the town’s originally enforcing our parking for our citizens and we don’t want to be in the business of paying money for parking.

Whitley: I will agree with David and Craig. There will not be a parking deck in Kure Beach. Parking is a hot issue. We’ve been working out for two years here. We’ve started out by redoing some of the codes for the town ordinances within town. And we found more parking spaces. After this season ends, August 30, in October, we will start readdressing the parking issue again, for us to discuss, bringing to the public on and get some feedback for how we proceed forward. It’s kind of been about a three-year project and we’re on year two on that. So we only have one more season to go to before we finalize what we can do with parking.

CB Greenway

Carolina Beach just opened its new Greenway. So, what do y’all think about extending it into Kure Beach?

Heglar: So that’s a pretty tough issue. Carolina Beach is getting a lot of complaints about their Greenway, as I understand it. I mean, I don’t pay attention to everything that’s happening there, and the citizens that the Greenway would go right past have spoken to multiple councils, not just one about the fact of having a Greenway right behind your property. Additionally, working with MOTSU is becoming tougher and tougher. I think the expense of going through the swampiness of the Southend compared to the relative high ground that Carolina Beach did would also be another big issue for Kure Beach. Just the cost of it. And the fact that the residents are not really that interested in, leads me to think it’s not a big issue for us. If a number of Kure Beach citizens — Kure Beach citizens — and residents came to Council, with that being a big issue for us to address, Council would definitely address it. But that hasn’t happened. A lot of outsiders have told us we should do it but not Kure Beach citizens

Whitley: I’m going to kind of give the standard answer I’ve given since we started talking about this. Carolina Beach did 1.4 miles, I think they got grants, they spent $300,000, $350,000 I believe on their sections. If people wanted to do it from where it ends now down to the ferry and extend it 3 miles, if we got grants, which might not be possible at this point, and extended it that far we’re looking at more than million dollars. I don’t see us spending that money. Forty-eight homes back the fire lane where that would go behind people’s homes, they don’t want to sit on their back deck and have people walking around and biking there. You would have to go through wetlands on the Southside of town, the historic site, you have to go through the Dow remains which could generate the impacts, environmental impact studies, I just don’t see it being feasible. And MOTSU has gotten a little more restrictive of what they will allow, and the times since Carolina Beach was approved, I just don’t think it would fly with our neighbors across the river.

Blozinsky: I will summarize — this is a great thing about working together for a period of time — I’ll just summarize what they just said. We have no current plans to extend that Greenway. Reasons: the length, the costs and the location and appealing to the citizens whose properties would be impacted. If any of those were to change. I say that I mentioned, then we would certainly probably take a view at changing that. Right now. There are no plans to extend that Greenway into Kure Beach.

Affordable housing

The Island has thrived because people want to live and move here. And rising property values have benefited the economy. However, the rising tide has not lifted all boats. And affordable housing has become a serious issue for people who live and work here. What should you and have you already done to address this issue?

Whitley: I don’t think we have been actively doing anything with that to be quite honest with you. Just because of the limitations we have, we have 2,200 lots in town, I believe at this point, we’re right around 200 that are available. I don’t think we would be able to put up any type of structure that perhaps could qualify for that because of the limitations of what we have existing open at this time. That’s probably not a popular answer. But I just don’t see how we can proceed forward with something that would be — I just don’t see how we would move forward with that.

Blozinsky: Affordable housing. We’re small town, We have 200, approximately 200 spaces available. None of that is contiguous space, principally, with the exception of the sand area, right smack dab in the middle of two of our largest sanctuaries. The other area would be on Fourth Street, which is property that we hold for an expansion of Public Works. So we don’t have anything that would set itself up for low-income type housing, What we do is we have structured our fees. And we have structured our water and other ways for which we can help people who have lower incomes stay on the island. So we have approached affordable livability as opposed to affordable housing, just to — it’s something we can achieve.

Heglar: So that’s a tough one. But I think there’s small towns in general don’t approach this issue, it’s not a small-town issue, it’s a large city issue. And I’m not saying that, as in small towns shouldn’t think about it. But it has not historically been a small-town issue to address. Typically, large cities have lots more resources and lots more opportunities for land. Craig clearly pointed out, there’s only two, two lots that would have any opportunity for some type of housing, they would maybe have a few people in it. But the residents of Kure Beach would not be interested in Council turning that land into some type of subsidized housing. And honestly, small towns don’t get into businesses subsidizing housing. I do agree that the Council has been very aggressive to set up our fees. So the fixed-income senior citizens that are retired 25 years ago and had the property values appreciate can still afford to live in Kure Beach.

Height limit

To remain competitive and bring businesses to Kure Beach would you support the lifting of the 35 height limit to 50 feet in limited areas in the business district?

Blozinsky: I am not interested in a wall of steel that would block the sunshine to the rest of the town. Maybe 35 isn’t the right number, I don’t know. You will tell me the best right number. Because We are your servants. We don’t have all the greatest ideas. But at this point in time, I am not interested in something that would increase, increase the height for the town. If we did anything at all — and this is a big if — it would be looking at the business district, which is a six-block, about six blocks. And that would take a lot of study. A lot of implications, work. What does that do? What’s the impact on the rest of the town? We have a nice business area, we have a good atmosphere, I will do everything I can to keep it just like that.

Heglar: So I was against the Council when they went — I was not on the Council — but I was against when the Council went to Raleigh and had 35 feet put in as a local bill. I think that that responsibility should have stayed with the Council. So one is, we don’t have that opportunity right now. And I don’t think the town could ever get to Raleigh to change that to start with. Having said that, I believe that the town should make good decisions for the revenue of everyone. And a larger taller business district would generate more property taxes, which would move the burden off of the residents, specifically, some of the older residents that are struggling with their property taxes. We’re very fortunate we’ve kept our property taxes in the town very low. But New Hanover County is two-thirds of the property tax that Kure Beach citizens pay. And so anything that can fix that, And having different revenues in the town would lower the property tax rate in Kure Beach, which would then help everyone in Kure Beach would be a potential. But I don’t see it happening.

Whitley: I don’t see any change coming with the height limit. But just as Craig said, if, if, if, I want to make sure everybody hears me, if, that became a bid, it would only be the only thing you could ever really consider to be the four to six blocks around the pier. And I think we would all be run out of office. But nah, I just don’t see that happening and I don’t think it would be beneficial for the town.

STRs

What’s your personal opinion concerning short term rentals? And what kind of short term rental policies would you be willing to entertain?

Heglar: So one, If anyone’s following our Council, they know we’re very aggressive that people pay the right fees, and short term rentals are what pay for the Kure Beach portion of beach renourishment, or stormwater reduction projects, whatever they’re called now. Having said that, I believe that there should be some regulations and really it’s around parking and interfering with other citizens’ right to their property. So the problems with short term rentals for me are the challenge they bring to our police department for and our building inspections department, enforcement parking. When they rent out a house to 50 people and 12 cars show up and they have three parking lots. So I think my stance is, we’re going to continue to aggressively address the parking issues to fix that. We do a really good job in Kure Beach of maintaining the noise issues. So I don’t think that’s as much of an issue except for a couple of select properties.

Whitley: I agree with David that we’ve been very aggressive with it. When I was on planning and zoning we had at least one night where we wanted to draft some standardization and make sure that the exits are clearly marked, which is after the deck had collapsed, I think it was in Sunset Beach several years ago. We got a lot of pushback on that. So we did not. I think we were the first town in the area that actually addressed it and then it kind of bled up to Wilmington. But David’s right. The biggest issues we have is with our parking. So, a duplex with two parking spaces, and they had eight vehicles, there was 16 people sleeping everywhere, we need to be aggressive with limiting it with that. And in also homes where they put beds in closets. You know, make sure that that doesn’t creep in in some areas.

Blozinsky: Short term rentals. I’m a fan, And I’m not a fan. I’m a fan with the ROT, the taxes that they pay generate for us help us pay for the beach, help us pay for lifeguards, help us pay for advertising, help us pay for a variety of things that are a benefit to the members of this town. They also bring a variety of problems. You’ve heard my compatriates. I think we have done quite well. I think our job is to manage these problems. We have to manage parking, We did that. And it’s not managing parking in a way to help them it’s managing parking in a way to help you. They can’t park on the greenway without your permission. That type of thing. But we need them. Other areas of town where they’re prohibited, and our areas of town like SeaWatch, which has quite a few rental properties. So noise is a problem, parking is a problem and attitude at times is a problem.

Powerlines

Burying powerlines throughout town. Overheads.

Whitley: That would be phenomenal. It’s aesthetically pleasing it would probably help without a doubt during hurricanes. I think estimates that when we looked at it was around $3 million. Perhaps Duke was feeling terribly generous one day and they offer to pay for it themselves. It would be ideal if we could do that across the entire island. But I just think moneywise it is a want instead of a need. And I just don’t think that it would occur without some grants or Duke stepping in to help in some way, shape or form, I don’t think the town should take that burden.

Blozinsky: Aesthetically pleasing is a pretty good example of what we would get like if we were able to bury these lines. Fact of the matter is so they may help us in town when we do have power, you would have to go back to the substation, because if the substation goes out, it doesn’t matter how deep your lines are. So there’s some upside to it. And then there are some difficulties. But our biggest problem is cost. We have looked at — it downtown looks nice. We did bury because we did a lot of work downtown. But extending it would require ripping up sidewalks, ripping up streets, ripping up a lot of utilities that frankly, you cannot afford the fee. Unless you want all kick in a significant amount of cash. So that’s just that.

Heglar: Yeah, it’s pretty simple. If all the citizens want to pay the millions and millions of dollars to do it, the Council will be very supportive of it. Duke Power is not gonna bury the lines. It’s not cost-effective for them and they’re not going to pass on that cost to all the rest of their customers. And there’s no way they can just make us pay it. So that means we have to front the money. If you just look at how expensive it was to do the downtown park and how much it basically tore up down there for how long and imagine that down 421. It would be a six-month project just on the front road. And it would tear up not just your power lines, but your water and sewer lines all go through the same right-of-ways. So all that would have to be deconflicted. Every homeowner would be inconvenienced, in addition to having to pay the thousands, probably 10s of thousands of dollars each. I mean, you think about it, say it’s a $5 million project and there’s 2,500 people, It’s $20,000 for every citizen, so I don’t think any the citizens are interested in paying $20,000.

Pedestrian crossings

Every summer, you’ve got all these tourists staying west of the main drag, and every summer — the main drag, 421 — and you have occasionally a gridlock where they either walk very far to find the next pedestrian crosswalk, or they perhaps jaywalk, not understanding that they can access one nearby. Have you personally sought out additional crossings? And would you be in favor of seeking additional crossings?

Blozinsky: That’s a very good question. And the answer is that I would be favorable for more crosses. However, there is a danger and with the help of David and N.C. State, we looked through a study that defined at 35 miles an hour they’re actually more dangerous than, because people have a false sense of security. I’ve written letters to people on this because you’ve asked me this question. There is no defense for a distracted driver. No defense for distracted driver except holding hands and looking both ways. Putting stripes in the street has not prevented some deaths in the area and some people who have been severely hurt even here in Kure Beach. We had one car stop, the car behind them didn’t, hit the car in front and took out two people who believed they had a safe passage. It’s distracted drivers.

Heglar: If you look at the studies, the facts are that in a beach town, driver should be paying attention but they’re looking at something else. And pedestrians are thinking about getting to the beach. Pedestrian crosswalks, as Craig said, the last person that got hit in Kure Beach was in a crosswalk with a stopped car in front of them. Crosswalks, just, they’re a false sense of security in the beach area. It’s the same thing as swimming in the ocean, you have to pay attention to the hazard and be aware. And I’ve crossed these roads at our crosswalk at our one stoplight and in every street in between, and if I wasn’t paying attention, there’s plenty of times I would’ve gotten hit. So, you know, all crosswalks do to me and what a lot of the studies show is they make people believe that they’re safe. And If you believe you’re safe, you don’t pay enough attention to it. So while I’m okay either way with what Council’s will is, I don’t really think they will help.

Whitley: I really don’t know what I could add to these two comments. I feel the exact same way.

Top three issues

What are the top three issues you’d like to address during your next term?

Heglar: So I think it’s the things we’re working on. One, we need to ensure that we get better on state funding to support beach renourishment. Two, we need to continue to address parking. And three, we need to continue to keep the flavor of the town as it continues to change. I think one of the most interesting things on Council is to have the new people come in and tell Council what we should change. And to resist that long enough for them to live here long enough to realize why it is the way it is. There’s a lot of people that move to Kure Beach. Many of them are visitors, and our VRBOs for a number of years and they decided to come to Kure Beach. And then as soon as they get here, it seems like a small percentage of them want to change it in some pretty significant way. From my perspective, while the town has to continue to mature and change, they need to change smartly. So this building is a big change for Kure Beach, but it was the right change to still maintain the flavor of Kure Beach and it feels like the old building, it doesn’t feel like something different.

Whitley: I do feel this Council has been very proactive, we’ve taken on a lot and made progress on many fronts. Me personally, with what I’m involved with, I would like to continue to work with our friends across the river, MOTSU, developing that relationship, we have several things we’re working with them on that will help the town. Stormwater, ditches, adding in some certain fights to help things. That’s the probably the biggest thing I would like to continue to work on and see to begin hopefully over the course of the next year or next hurricane season. Parking I think is probably going to be for the emotional hot button issue the next year is probably going to be the biggest topic that we’ll take on. And the third one, is I’m working with planning and zoning, we’re doing the overlay district, and after that we’re going to roll into, we have to redo our land-use plan by 2021, that’s going to be coming up there.

Blozinsky: I’m concerned about our finances. One-third of your taxes stay here. They come from your homes, that is the primary source of income. We keep that and we use it and use it the way you want us to use it. So we will focus on safety. So we have strong departments for fire and for police. We will focus on cleanliness so we will make sure that public works has the things that they need to keep infrastructure safe and keep the town clean. We will focus on maintenance of our structures and our buildings. We will focus on recreation that will entertain you and keep you happy to be here. And more or less maintain the integrity of the this town. One of the things I’m trying not to do is give you any wishy-washy answers. So I’m trying to be as direct as I can with my responses. So we have a lot to do we have a lot we’ve done and we’re not finished.

Property tax increases

Over 10 years, or actually a nine-year period, the property taxes in Kure Beach have increased by 152%. What have residents, people paying their hard-earned money, what have they gained from this increase? It increased in 2018 and in 2019. What are some substantial things you can point to and say this is what you’re getting from this increase over time for long term residents?

Blozinsky: Okay, the increase as you mentioned, I’m not sure that’s just our portion of it. That may be the total portion because we went from about 22 to 26 cents in some period of time. But you’re sitting in one of them. So this structure, I hope you are proud of it. You also on Sundays sit in front of the other structure, that is the Oceanfront Park. I think you would see that the community center has been revamped, we’ve used your money wisely there. And we have done a tremendous amount of work on infrastructure, tremendous amount of work on drainage, tremendous amount of work on improving downtown, and I think you all say it looks pretty good. I think it looks very good, than the way it used to look. So we have invested your money. And we have not delved into our reserves for anything we’ve done. At least while this team is here, we will not do that.

Heglar: So in 10 years, we went from a number of, a primary volunteer fire department to at least two full-time firemen on 24 by seven, which has put us in the lowest response time of any department in New Hanover County. That’s very important because that department responds not just to fires, but also to life events. We have a number of senior citizens, we do assist there. So that’s just the fire department. The public works department, we’ve invested in that timeframe, so that’s nine years. And in that timeframe, we’ve probably invested $1.5 million in stormwater and road projects in the town. I think you can see it. The park was before then, I think no, it was after then. So the Oceanfront Park as well, with burying the lines that we talked about the cost of that for downtown. This entity right here, which we expect to serve the town for the next 25 years as well. And as Craig said, we didn’t do that by taken out of our reserve.

Whitley: David, Craig, and I have been the Council that started the conversation about the building, thanks to some prodding from town staff. So this is probably the biggest thing that we’ve done, and that have caused the issues with the taxes, not necessarily in a bad way. But it had to be done. We needed more space for employees, we need space for records for our planning for our building inspector. There were reasons behind building this because we have to keep up with state and federal regulations. This structure, as David said, will serve for 30 years, the last one, the last time we had was built by donations, by the citizens of the town. You’re not going to get anymore and that was built, what, 30 years ago at this point? So this structure, and then the stormwater on the south end of town and the improvements we’ve made down there on the south end, and then the upcoming improvements we’re going to make on the north side of town and then we’ll go back down to the Southside of town to make more improvements. So we’re just bouncing back and forth trying to improve everything.

Water supply, use

It’s been brought up several times in the past. Water Conservation, irrigation meters and available water supply, or capacity. So where do we stand with it? And if anything needs to be improved what would that be?

Heglar: The Council is very concerned about water for the long term. Water is a very important issue to our citizens, we believe. We have structured our water rates. But in the near term and in our future plans that every citizen can have a certain amount of water at a base low rate. That helps our senior citizens on fixed incomes and our retirees. As you go upside that rate we have a five-tiered system at this time. And basically the rates double the more water you use. We have a number of properties that use an exorbitant amount of water and they pay for it. And we believe that’s the right way to go. Our water, like Carolina Beach’s water and Wrightsville Beach’s water is from wells off an aquifer and aquifers near the ocean have a big issue if you take too much water. The ocean water infiltration is called saltwater infiltration. And that is a problem.

Whitley: We all tend to the forum Monday night for Carolina Beach and a candidate for Council there in Carolina Beach mentioned our store our water structure how we bill people, the heavy users pay more. And our aquifer is the Castle Hayne aquifer. We will be impacted. We have a lot of growth in New Hanover County. So we have to be smart so that that doesn’t go below a certain point. And then this infiltration, which was a huge issue for our water supply.

Blozinsky: Water. Probably the most important thing that we can talk about. Water use in this town, 10% of the people use 60% of the water. How do you feel about that? Now, when you look at that, a lot of that has to do some very serious irrigation. Now they are allowed to use that water. It’s a right to use that water but they do pay for that water. So irrigation costs. The irrigation valves are going to continue to cost quite a bit of money because you want to press to conserve our water supply. Why do you care if their salt, saltwater infiltration? We have a very expensive water distribution system for our town. It won’t be worth much if we can’t use that.

Emergency preparedness, MOTSU

One good thing for Kure Beach is that MOTSU identified only one community that had explicit land-use policies to restrict the use of land in the vicinity of MOTSU, so that’s great. Some didn’t even mention it at all. Your whole town is in the K88 zone, which is essentially a hazard for glass breakage in the event of a disaster. So this is about emergency preparedness.

You have critical utility infrastructure in the blast zone. One of the recommendations out of the Joint Land Use Study, which was I believe was finalized in July, was to begin at least a proactive conversation about safety [utility protocols] for your residents. Have you begun those conversations? And if so, what have those conversations been like?

Whitley: I don’t think we’ve had those conversations. Are you talking about potentially tying into Cape Fear Public Utility Authority?

That was one of the recommendations.

Whitley: I don’t think that would be a very popular plan in town. I would definitely see the benefit of us having the plan in place. But that would be just as that 35 height limit being addressed. That would be a catastrophic event that we would try to tie into Cape Fear Public Utilities. Because I think the citizens would probably revolt. Because of the bad reputation of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, to be honest. And we do have inexpensive water rates here and the way that the bill structure is here, is their bills would go up and we would not be able to be — we would lose control of our resource and I don’t think that would go well, in the long term, for Kure Beach. But that was brought up in a meeting with us with Carolina Beach and then somehow get brought up in Kure Beach.

Blozinsky: As you think about that, practically speaking, we have a lagoon. You may not know we have a lagoon for sewage. That lagoon is behind Seventh Street down the street down here and a little bit to my right. That lagoon is a safety belt for us. We actually divert sewage up to our friends at Carolina Beach, where we have a responsibility to pay for some of the use of that facility. So we do have some type of support area. Areas to be concerned about? Our water towers. If we were to lose the water because towers, there’s really not a whole lot more that you can do. Actually, though, the water towers that are up in Carolina Beach would have the same, the same difficulties. So we’d have work to do on this.

Heglar: Cool so they plowed the ground so I can then finalize the answer, right. So as Craig said, we have a lagoon, the lagoon is not gonna blow up as it flows out, and they let us rebuild and we rebuilt it, there’ll be a lot more problems than that for the town. The water towers have withstood all of the hurricanes we’ve had, and therefore all the time so and and a blast over there, they’re not like breaking windows, they’re probably going to be fine. If we lost one of them, we would operate off one which the town did until the early 2000s. If we lost both of them, and we still had power, and we were still allowed to live here, we would pump the wells while we rebuild the water tower. And we would probably bring in a temporary tank to maintain the pressure. The real issue is, is MOTSU is an issue, just like the nuclear power plant. We have short term plans to protect our citizens in the event of a catastrophic issue at either one of those places. And then long term, we have minimal plans, but we have an idea of what we would do. And that’s all you have. We’re not gonna invest millions of dollars to do something else right now.

Audience questions

I heard two of you state that the plan for this building is 25 to 30 years. So what happens at the end of that? Are you relocating?

Heglar: No. 25 years, I don’t know. But I think the down would work with the department is 25 years from now whoever they are and they’ll tell us there are space requirements. And then just like we did with this one, Council will put it off as long as they can. And then they’ll make a plan and do something else. 25 years temporary. For government planning, I think that’s pretty good, especially small-town government planning. But the Council would do the same thing we did this time, which I thought we did really well actually. It took us a long time, we had the department drive their needs so it was a need-based evaluation. And then we work with an architect to design a building that fit all those needs. And then we cut a bunch of money out of it. So I think the first shot was like $7 or $8 million, and we got it down, but not as far as we would like probably. But we’re very happy to the second hurricane [Dorian] this year with this building versus in the trailers and stuff falling in the last time.

I was going to try and do this with Carolina Beach. We put it out for maybe a question. But What I see is with the parking issue, back to that, is there any chance that Carolina Beach and Kure Beach could get together and have a universal parking permit to the island? Instead of Kure Beach citizens that want to go into Carolina Beach and they have to pay for parking? And out there on the wind is the fact that Kure Beach might be putting in more paid parking? So would there be a way of being able to have both towns park in each town?

Blozinsky: Well, if we were to go to pay parking, we would have 632 spaces. In those 632 spaces, we would want to allow our citizens to have the ability to park for free, if they can find a space. The spaces aren’t allocated but if you find a space, park for free. If we have everybody park for free, I don’t know how much revenue that would generally deliver. Now, as of right now, we would love for them to allow our citizens to park down there. But we can’t. We would love to allow our golf carts to go down there. But it costs a lot of money to cross that line over there. So can it be talked about? Absolutely. But I personally would need to understand the implications and impact of doing that on our town and on our citizens. There’s an opportunity to build goodwill right now. That’s my answer.

Heglar: If I was on Carolina Beach Council, I certainly wouldn’t be in favor of that unless Kure Beach charged for parking and gave the same benefit to my citizens. So there’s no advantage for Carolina Beach to do it. If Kure Beach ever goes to paid parking, Council should consider it. The issue is we’ve looked at paid parking. It’s not going to generate revenues and it really changes the flavor of the town pretty significantly. So until Kure Beach went to pay for it — and I’m not saying I think we should or we will, we consider it every two or three years because of something we have to continue to pay attention to. Once that happens, maybe the two towns could talk about it but until then, no Carolina Beach Council should pass that. If they did, I would appreciate them doing it but I would be ashamed of them because they shouldn’t give anything away. Well, we’re a long way from that, in my opinion. But Council talks about it every two or three years. Sooner or later. I think we will have it happen.

Whitley: If we went to paid parking, I think it would be beneficial for most towns. Because a lot of people from Carolina Beach come down here for 40% off at Jack Mackerel’s or come down here for Sunday in the park for the music. We pay to go up there. If we did do paid parking and they didn’t give us a break, I would not be in favor, I would, we would mirror exactly what Carolina Beach charges our citizens. And I think it’s 150 bucks right now. I would be in favor of that. But I have mentioned it with one Carolina Beach Councilman, councilperson, I’ll try to keep it anonymous, and they didn’t have the conversation.

Would you be in favor of the shuttle service? Where they would park in one general area, let’s say in Carolina Beach? And the shuttle would bring them down and drop them off? It’d be like a routine shuttle, it would be every six hours.

Whitley: But with the trolley that’s been tried what, three times in the past 15, 20 years, I think we just got rid of our trolley parking spot finally. It hasn’t run in eight or 10 years. I would be, I would welcome the conversation, but then first thing that rolls through my mind is, where are they going to use the bathroom? And then you start getting into they’re down here for six hours, what are they going to do for all those six hours? They sit on the beach. We would hope they spend money in the restaurants, in the stores. But there would be an economic benefit for us to do that, that would be my issue with it.

Heglar: So I think the question more is would Kure Beach be interested in subsidizing and I would not be in favor of that at all. There’s plenty of opportunities to get to Kure Beach. There’s the $5. golf cart taxi now, there’s Uber on the island finally now. There’s plenty of ways to get around the island without paying for parking. There are only going to get more. My long term belief is the revenue stream for parking is not going to work out for any of these towns that are building their budgets on them. And I think that that is not in the citizens of Kure Beach interests or my understanding of their will that Kure Beach spend their tax dollars to subsidize people to come down here. There’s plenty of people, we welcome our visitors. But we’re not going to pay for them to come. We already paid for police and fire and lifeguards and public works to clean up after them. So the citizens are already funding them when they get here, We’re not going to fund getting them here as well, at least in my opinion.

Blozinsky: I think that was answered very well. But I do have a business proposal. I would love to see somebody take the Henrietta three held up in Wilmington, take it down river, they can drop it off up here at the State Park and use the golf carts to go wherever they want in the town. But I don’t want to pay for it. So if we get some cars off our streets, and people could arrive here in different ways, I would be all for that. But I can’t see us paying for.

Closing statements

Heglar: So one I would say it’s an honor to serve. It’s also a challenge. I’m glad this is getting recorded I hope our citizens listen to it. As I’ve said, Every one of these. Our citizens are very demanding for our staff, for our employees, and for our councilmembers for all our volunteers. And we do it because we love the town. And we appreciate the opportunity. But recognize that your one issue is very small, most of the time, compared to all the things that Council and staff and employees deal with. And while it’s the most important thing to you as an individual, don’t think that it’s assumed that all the activities that have to happen for the town to be the way it is. Please thank your volunteers, please thank our employees, please thank our staff. And every once in awhile thank your commissioners. We spend a lot of our time doing the town’s business. We, I feel very confident in saying that the five, the four men that I’ve served with right now and the previous commissioners, if you average out what they make for what they’re doing it’s probably $1 an hour or less a month. Because of the research that they do. And really the current council that I’m on with, I gotta say a shout out to all of them. I’m always impressed with how well they’ve researched the topics before we get to the Council meeting. They reach out and talk to our staff to understand the issues. And when we’re here, we’re actually talking and I feel like everyone’s up to speed, which has not always been the case. So please thank all of them, because it’s really nice to work with a team that is aware. And while Joe said we always agree that’s not true. And It shouldn’t be. If you ever get a council where everyone’s agreeing you need to kick a couple of them out and put some new people in because Council should not always agree. So It’s our honor to serve you, and I appreciate it personally, thanks very much.

Whitley: I didn’t say we always agree, I’ve been the one that’s lost more votes 4-1 than anybody else up here.

Heglar: Good. That’s what we need.

Whitley: But it has been an honor. This is, in the four years I’ve been here, this past two years, it’s definitely been a great experience for me. I’ve learned a lot. Definitely called Hegler a few times and he’s been very patient with me. Jim Dugan on the prior Council was a great resource for me. When I got elected I did not know a thing about stormwater or sewage anything. You have to put a lot of time into it. Nancy back there was a great resource for me, calling her at all hours or texting and saying I need help with this. And she always answered my phone, and I’m going to miss her when she’s gone. Several people made comments that we were running unopposed and y’all have it easy. I kind of tend to feel the citizens said, we’re not going to run against you as a town. I feel that adds more pressure to us. We’ve totally done a good job, a great job hopefully. I feel that adds pressure to us to not just maintain what we are doing but to exceed what we have done the past few years. And to keep a foot on the gas, keep progressing. Again, we’re very proactive Council we pick up a lot of topics, try to make a lot of headway, make the town better. And as David said, we have a tremendous town staff. We can only mess things up up here. The town staff is the ones that really do the work of the town. And they are tremendous. Public works, fire department, police department, administration, if you ever seek them out, thank them. And of course, you can always thank us. If you see me at Jack Mackerels, let me finish having dinner before you talk to me. Thank y’all so much for attending tonight.

Blozinsky: We are up here because of you. We serve you. The expertise on this Council is tremendous. I would put them against any staff in any large city. But we take assignments, like MOTSU, Thank you, Joe, you did an outstanding job on that. When we do things like cover the construction on the building, Alan, Thank you. You did an excellent job on that. When we do things like work for dedication of this building. Thank you, John, you did an excellent job on that. When we do things for emergency planning. Thank you. Thank you, David, You did an excellent job on that. We as a community are blessed with talented people willing to give their time to make this a good place for you to live. The only discouragement I had is that I wish more people would have come this evening to hear what we have to say. Question us, tell us, lead us. We’re not leaving you. You tell us where you want to go. And then we will lead that process. So Nancy and staff, I wish they were all here. Their dedication. They serve us tremendously during hurricanes from disasters. None of them live here. I want you to think about that when you look at people on the street. I want you to think about that when you’re in curfew and pissed off, right?. So we just, we have a great town. I want to keep it that way. I believe you want to keep it that way. If you don’t tell us what you want. Just tell us what you want. That way, it’s our community. It doesn’t belong to the Council. It doesn’t belong to the staff, it belongs to you. Thanks for coming and thanks for your support.


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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