State awards $1.1 million for public water accesses

Nags Head received $200,000 from the state to remove and replace the bathhouse and dune walkover and upgrade parking, site amenities and landscaping at Epstein Street. [Town of Nags Head photo]

More than $1.1 million has been awarded to seven towns and two counties to improve public access to coastal beaches and waters.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management announced Friday recipients of the funding through the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program, which is now in its 40th year. The program provides matching funds to local governments in the state’s 20 coastal counties.

“For 40 years, the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Program has helped fund key projects that enhance access and improve experiences for residents and visitors enjoying the natural beauty of our coastal waterways,” said Elizabeth S. Biser, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. “DEQ is honored to offer this support for our local partners and the coastal economy.”

The following local governments received the grants:

  • Atlantic Beach received $73,288 to build a 290-foot handicap-accessible dune crossover at the DoubleTree East Public Beach Access.
  • Cedar Point received $60,000 to build an accessible kayak launch that complies with Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines with shaded wheelchair parking at the Boathouse Creek Walking Trails Park. The project includes both an accessible parking area and walkway to the kayak launch.
  • Elizabeth City received $92,180 to fund the George M. Wood Memorial Park Restoration Project, which will rehabilitate the existing boardwalk on the Pasquotank River and provide parking space that complies with ADA access guidelines at the existing public access.
  • Holden Beach received $180,460 for the acquisition of oceanfront property.
  • Hyde County received $90,750 to renovate the Engelhard Far Creek Boardwalk.
  • Nags Head received $200,000 to remove the existing bathhouse and dune walkover and install a new bathhouse and dune walkover with upgraded parking, site amenities and landscaping at existing oceanfront access with improved accessibility at the Epstein Street Public Beach Access.
  • New Bern received $110,809 to extend the existing marshwalk and add a fishing platform at Lawson Creek Park.
  • Tyrrell County received $25,650 for Phase III of the Scuppernong River Park Renovation to expand existing pier platform at the existing public access site.
  • Washington received $350,000 for Phase II of the Wetlands Boardwalk Reconstruction to renovate 1,024 feet of the pedestrian boardwalk.

Governments that receive grants must match them by contributing at least 25% toward the project’s cost. The program is funded by the North Carolina General Assembly through the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Access projects may include walkways, dune crossovers, restrooms, parking areas, piers and related projects. Funds also may be used for land acquisition or urban waterfront revitalization.

Staff with the state Division of Coastal Management selected the recipients based on criteria set by the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission.