CAROLINA BEACH — With expected high tides and erosion over the next several weeks, combined with the governor’s loosening of Covid-19 restrictions before Memorial Day weekend, Carolina Beach has announced various restrictions to one of its main attractions, Freeman Park.
The town has closed off vehicle access on the north end of the park at a point on the beach known as “The Pinch,” where the beach narrows before opening up to the northern end of the island. The closure of the north end to car traffic was due to “high tide marks [that] affect the usable footprint and limits the space available for patrons,” according to a release sent late Friday afternoon.
According to Human Resources Director Holly Brooks, the decision to close car access at this point was made to prevent a bottleneck that could possibly deny emergency vehicles access to the north end. She estimated that there is space for 200 to 250 cars on the south end, parked in three rows.
The town also announced that no camping will be allowed in the park until Labor Day, September 7, and anticipates intermittent closures in the park to occur in coming weeks due to large crowds.
“During the Memorial Day weekend and over the next few weeks, we expect increasing tides and regular erosion in the northern sections of Freeman Park,” according to the announcement. “As a result, Town officials have closed this area of the park to vehicular traffic as high tide marks affect the usable footprint and limits the space available for patrons.”
The state’s next phase of reopening begins 5 p.m. on Friday as large Memorial Day weekend crowds are expected at Carolina Beach.
“Public safety staff will perform assessments daily to determine when additional sections of the park can safely be opened, or if additional closures are required,” according to the announcement.
Until further notice, the following restrictions are in effect:
1. No vehicles are allowed past marked closures. Anyone driving past a designated closure will be issued a citation. Visitors of the park may still walk past closure points.
2. All persons and vehicles parking dune side should refrain from entering into or placing items in designated camping areas.
3. No vehicle shall operate or park in the tidal zone (wet sand area).
4. Vehicles that exit the park for any reason are not guaranteed re-entry.
5. Camping is not allowed until after Labor Day 2020.
6. Lifeguards will only patrol areas of Freeman Park where vehicles are allowed.
7. Intermittent closures are anticipated to occur due to limited beach area and level of patron use.
8. Pending increased tidal surges, access to Freeman Park may result in additional restrictions and closures.