Banners spark debate on Wrightsville Beach board

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The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen delved into a thorough debate during it’s Thursday, April 13 meeting, with each member commenting, that ultimately produced a short-term compromise.

The issue: welcome banners for visitors to Wrightsville Beach.

Instead of purchasing a full array of banners, the board asked town manager Tim Owens to purchase only one banner, to help gauge the public interest in the project.

The decision came after Owens presented the board with potential options and a mock-up of what the banners would look like while driving into Wrightsville Beach. Alderman Lisa Weeks suggested the welcome banners during the board’s retreat in January, with Owens presenting four design options to the board at a cost of $3,200 for 12 banners measuring 30 by 60 inches. But unsure if the town would welcome the banners, the board asked Owens to purchase just one.

“I see them in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. All of these cities have banners up, and we’re a tourist town,” Weeks said during the meeting.  “I don’t think we need a lot, but it makes an impression when you come across the bridge.”

But mayor Bill Blair said that the mock up presented by Owens, showing the signs on the first three light post on Causeway Boulevard after coming over the Heide Trask Drawbridge, was “too much.”

“I’m not a big sign person,” said Blair, who had worked with Owens over the past few months to take down more than 100 redundant signs across the town. “I wouldn’t mind seeing something, but I don’t know if we want a whole lot of banners at the beach.”

In addition to whether the sign needed a series of banners, alderman Hank Miller said that the public should also have more input on what design the town should use.

Additionally, alderman Elizabeth King also expressed concerns that the signs could be excessive if placed on Waynick Boulevard and other streets further into town, with Weeks asserting that the banners were only needed at Causeway Drive and Salisbury Street, where visitors first come into town.”

“We already have the welcome sign,” King said.

In designing the project, Owens said the signs could be fitted to work with the welcome banners used for the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla in November. Blair said that since they focused on a specific event, the flotilla banners serve a different purpose than the welcome banners, which would presumably be up throughout the summer season.

In light banter session after the discussion, Weeks said she would take pictures of the banners in other towns to show the board. King replied: “But those other towns need them.”

In other board action:

  • The board of aldermen approved a high visibility crosswalk at beach access No. 9, near the Surf Club and Sea Oats Condominiums. The $35,000 would include $7,000 for engineering,in addition to extending the existing sidewalk to nearby Parmele Boulevard.
  • The board approved $9,000 for two new fixed security cameras at its North Lumina Well No. 4 on Raleigh Street. The cameras are in addition to the  $55,000 for seven new cameras it authorized in March.
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