Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Kure Beach residents embrace NIMBY, council concede to exploring other greenway paths

Located at the south end of Pleasure Island, Kure Beach consists of a few small businesses and homes (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)
Located at the south end of Pleasure Island, Kure Beach consists of a few small businesses and homes (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)

KURE BEACH — After pouncing on the Pleasure Island town’s proposal to overhaul its boardwalk, some Kure Beach residents have shifted their focus to resisting another component of the town’s bike and pedestrian plan.

On Monday several homeowners in Kure Beach spoke out against a project to extend the island greenway to Fort Fisher. The town wants to add another 3.5 miles to Island Greenway, beginning in Carolina Beach and ending at Alabama Avenue. The project would be completed in three phases and the town could pay $4.85 million in total.

READ MORE: Top four items in Kure Beach Bike and Pedestrian plan to cost $7.2 million

Everyone who spoke in opposition at the meeting live on Settlers Lane. They took issue with the project’s second phase, which would route the greenway behind their homes on Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point property. 

The majority of the town’s proposed greenway path is located on MOTSU land, so the town requires approval from Department of Defense officials. The town would also be responsible for constructing a fence along the length of the path. 

Many of Monday’s public speakers said they chose to buy a home on Settlers Lane because it backed up to MOTSU property, land they thought would never be developed. 

“This is the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases and the citizens may act only by permission, which is the stage of the darkest days of human history — the stage of rule by brute force,” resident Rob Johson said during the meeting. 

Over 60 houses would be affected by the greenway, which residents claim will be an intrusion of privacy, environmental detriment and unnecessary cost. They’re also citing it as a safety concern.  

Resident Joe Burke questioned if the greenway, out of sight from a large part of the town, would see more crime or dangerous activity. 

“Will women and children be safer when they are secluded physically and visually?” he said. 

At the meeting, residents also were concerned about the fire department’s access to the land if trees and vegetation on the other side of the fence caught fire. 

The Kure Beach Fire Department and Police Department did not respond to requests for comment by publication. 

Still, the bike and pedestrian plan notes this section of the greenway was the top-requested project based on resident feedback. The plan states the route’s map received 54 likes and 1 dislike. 

Those in support argue the path is a safe designated route for walking and biking, one that won’t come into conflict with traffic on major roads. As noted in the plan, the residents of Settlers Lane “passionately” oppose the route behind their homes.

“They call us NIMBY’s, we say we’re NINBY’s — not in no one’s backyard,” resident Judy Larrick said during the meeting. 

Kure Beach council was open to exploring other options for the route. 

Part of Monday’s regular agenda, council granted permission for Mayor Pro Tem Allen Oliver to attend a stakeholders meeting regarding North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Great Trails State Plan. One of the plan’s priorities is a separate path running through Kure Beach to the Fort Fisher Ferry. 

Oliver suggested attending the meeting to discuss combining the feasibility study to cover the bike and pedestrian plan’s route with NCDOT’s route to conclude the best option moving forward. 

“This is a typical next step in developing a greenway, it will give us an actual cost,” Oliver said at the meeting. 

The feasibility study would be covered by a grant through NCDOT, requiring no match from the town, according to Oliver. Once the study is completed, the council will decide on requesting land access from MOTSU authorities. 

An alternative path was more palatable to some of the public speakers on Monday night. Some speakers proposed turning the Settlers Lane sidewalks into an off-road path. This is more common in other municipalities compared to separate routes for pedestrians, such as the Military Cutoff Trail in Wilmington. Another option is to pave a path along Dow Road.

As pointed out by the naysayers during Monday’s meeting, several Kure Beach councils were against a greenway behind Settlers Lane. Extending the greenway was brought up most recently in 2020, but it was not a priority for council members. 

“It wasn’t feasible then, it isn’t feasible now,” resident Barbara Erwin said in the meeting.

Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at brenna@localdailymedia.com 

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