By Lena Moriarty
With no sidewalk in the vicinity, Wrightsville Beach is planning for construction of a high visibility crosswalk near the corner of Parmele Boulevard and North Lumina Avenue will begin this spring.
“The area serves a large segment of our year-round population,” said Town Manager Tim Owens.
No sidewalk is currently present in the high-traffic area, Owens said, adding that the handicapped ramp does not currently meet Department of Transportation specifications.
To resolve safety concerns, low-cost sidewalks will be constructed on the Parmele Boulevard side while sidewalk installations will also be layered out on North Lumina Avenue to prevent pedestrians from cutting corners when crossing the street.
“This facility would serve that whole community year round,” said Owens of the crosswalk. “It will allow pedestrians to cross much more safely.”
Engineering firm SEPI quoted the cost of building at $70,000 with an exact estimate to be submitted in late February, with construction expected to begin in April.
In other town news:
Parking improvements coming for town’s rec center
Parking for visitors of the town’s Fran Russ Recreation Center and the parks and recreation office will improve with the paving of the grassy area in front of the buildings.
Town officials said visitors to these buildings will often drag in gravel from the current unpaved lot, bringing in unwanted dirt, an issue that will be resolved once the gravel and grassy areas are paved.
Still water also builds up in the area when it rains, Owens said.
The area in front of the two buildings is often used for overflow parking, especially during summer events at Wrightsville Beach Park.
The town does not have a cost estimate, but the town has budgeted $40,000 to pave and construct this lot. The town is working with contractor Cape Fear Engineers to build the parking lot, with a construction start planned for spring of 2019.
“We have a lot of activities here in Town Hall,” Town Manager Tim Owens said of the need for this new parking lot. “It will really benefit that whole area.”
The parking lot will be accessible from both Bob Sawyer Drive and Gene Floyd Drive.
Public restrooms kept open for winter
A Wrightsville Beach public bathroom that was opened year-round beginning this winter is getting wide use during warmer days, as the board of aldermen will consider usage when contemplating whether to keep other bathrooms open all year.
The public restroom at the Trolley Stop Mini Park between South Lumina Avenue and Waynick Boulevard was opened for use for visitors this winter after a vote by the board of aldermen on Oct. 5.
The Trolley Stop public bathroom will now be one of three WB bathrooms open during the winter months. The Mercer’s public bathroom and the bathroom by the tennis courts will also remain open year-round.
Depending on the amount of use the Trolley Stop bathroom receives will determine whether or not this becomes the permanent public bathroom schedule. Wrightsville Beach is seeing an influx of beachgoers as early as February some years when the weather brings warmer days, Owens said.
The town’s aldermen are looking at issues over the the funding and upkeep of the restrooms during the winter months.
The fixed costs to operate the four restrooms in the offseason total about $2,800 a month, said Bill Squires, Public Works Director.
Keeping these restrooms open throughout the year will also require maintenance throughout the year, which poses another potential issue for the scheduling change. There are also some additional costs such as stocking and cleaning the facilities, Owens said, adding that as of this month, operations are running smoothly.