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Posted on: September 8, 2022

Joel Lane Beach Access Improvements

Joel Lane Public Beach Access

September 8, 2022


The following letter is being shared with the public to clarify the improvements planned for the Joel Lane Public Beach Access area. 

In the interest of safety, the Emerald Isle Parks & Recreation Department maintains every public beach access along the near 13-mile stretch of beach. 

The Town of Emerald Isle maintains a total of 109 public water access points. 

    75 access points are located on the ocean and 34 along the sound.

    18 beach accesses and 25 sound access have sand/natural walkways.

    57 beach access areas and 9 sound access points have improved wooden structures. 

Annually, the EIPR staff evaluates and ranks the access areas for critical improvements and/or replacements.  The Town Board has consistently dedicated $90,000 per budget cycle to replace the most damaged/weathered wood access walkways.  

For Fiscal Years 21 and 22, three locations (Craig, Joel and Sea Crest) were ranked highest and identified for repair.  Unfortunately, material costs virtually tripled during this timeframe.  The average cost to replace a walkway increased from $30,000 to $82,500. 

The Emerald Isle Town Manager received a series of emails and complaints from residents regarding the Joel Lane access.  Our manager shared that Joel Lane was not currently funded for replacement.  He also explained to a series of property owners that EI has a pending $825,000 FEMA grant application to replace 10-public access walkways.  Severely weathered (but longer) walkways were identified to be replaced by the grant.  This step was taken to maximize the potential grant. 

The Town Board and staff took the complaints of the concerned citizens very serious.  Everyone worked together to expedite repairs at Joel Lane.  

In early August of 2022, town staff requested quotes by area contractors to remove the existing damaged steps and replace them with new steps.  

In late August of 2022, the Town Manager and Finance Director redirected funds from an alternate project to perform $19,500 in work at Joel Lane.  The purchase order was issued on September 1, 2022, and the winning contractor was notified of the award.  

On the morning of September 6, 2022, the contractor notified Town staff that he had an opening in his schedule to begin removal of the dilapidated step system.  Town staff immediately sent an email to the list of Joel Lane residents that requested improvements at the area walkway.  Staff also made a post on the town’s official website of the anticipated construction and placed signage at Joel Lane.  These steps are consistent with other public walkway replacement projects.  

Once demolition began (on Tuesday, September 6, 2022), additional emails were sent to the town staff and officials.  The Town Board and staff understand that there is a vested public interest in this walkway.  

Historical Lookback

Per Carteret County GIS, a dedicated public easement of 25’ exists at Joel Lane. 

The Town of Emerald Isle did NOT install the steps at Joel Lane.  In fact, the Town did not take ownership of said steps until 2017.  Immediately upon taking ownership, the EIPR staff made emergency repairs to the steps and identified the unit as a candidate for replacement.  

The Town Board and staff have taken action to improve the public access at Joel Lane.  The Town will continue to make improvements at Joel Lane. 

Current Scope of Work:  Joel Lane

The Town secured bids to remove and replace the steps at Joel Lane. 

The Town has secured the necessary CAMA waiver to remove and replace the step system at Joel Lane.  

The Town has applied for the necessary building permit(s) with Carteret County to rebuild the step system at Joel Lane.  

Once permits have been issued by Carteret County, B & P Services will install new steps using treated wood and stainless-steel hardware.  

Additionally, Town staff will install a delineated post-and-rope walkway at Joel Lane. The natural surface walkway will guide visitors from Ocean Drive toward the base of the newly constructed steps. 

The coastal information sign may also be relocated, allowing for the installation of a new bicycle rack at Joel Lane. 

All of these improvements will be made within the existing 25’ easement. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Town staff is following a standard process to make improvements at Joel Lane, just as we have at other public beach access areas. 

Why isn’t the Town making the Joel Lane access walkway longer?

As a Town, we are entrusted to maintain the infrastructure we have in place.   

It is important to repair the existing wooden steps, walkways, and observation areas (in inventory) before adding additional walkways.  

A wooden walkway at Joel Lane can be added to the future improvements list for public beach access areas. 

If local residents desire to donate the necessary funds to install a wooden walkway (from Ocean Drive to the Joel Lane step), the Town will consider this improvement.  Other areas have been enhanced by such donations. 

Summary

The improvements being made in September 2022 will create a safer and cleaner access for everyone that elects to use the dedicated public access at Joel Lane.  

I sincerely hope that this letter clarifies the Town’s approach, standards, and the project within this section of Emerald Isle.  

Thank you and have a blessed day!

Very respectfully,

Mayor Jason Holland

Town of Emerald Isle

jholland@emeraldisle-nc.org

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