After meeting the concerns of some members of the board of aldermen, the stairs leading to the sound at the west end of two Wrightsville Beach streets will be rebuilt following their destruction in Hurricane Florence.
On Thursday, Dec. 14, the board approved allowing the residents of both West Henderson Street and West Greensboro Street to raise money and build the stairs, which would allow access to Banks Channel. But the approval wasn’t without some controversy, as some board members reflected concerns of neighbors near the water about the behavior of people using the steps.
During the meeting, Henderson Street resident Steve Lewis represented the ad hoc West Henderson Street Association, which agreed to fund the project. Lewis said that the project could cost as much as $2,750, with $1,000 for labor and another $1,750 for materials. Lewis said a local building was willing to provide some labor for free.
Several residents wrote that the stairs added value to their property on the street and that they regularly enjoyed going to the sound side to swim.
“I enjoy kayaking from the waterway as well as floating on the intercoastal. I have enjoyed taking my kids to the waterway over the years. I enjoy seeing visitors and WB residents enjoying the space,” Henderson Street resident Art Annis wrote. “It is much safer to have secure stairs at the public access than the alternative of people jumping. Many injuries can be prevented by rebuilding the stairs.”
Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said that in addition to building steps at West Henderson Street, a staircase would also be constructed at West Greensboro Street, with those residents also paying for the project. He said that both projects needed to be done simultaneously.
Some neighbors had concerns about rowdy behavior, Blair said, noting that residents would have to be vigilant in helping keep order in the area by calling police or other officials when people are seen violating rules.
Lewis said at the project would include specialty signage at the end of the street to remind people of the rules, which include no alcohol, no boat mooring, no unleashed dogs and no littering.
“Respect this space or leave this place,” the sign said.
If behavior issues become a problem, Blair said the town could be forced to remove the stairs.
Town officials said that the project would likely also need to include formal signage from the town as well. And while neighbors will be involved in the project, town officials said that the ownership of the property will remain with the town. Officials will also need to check on the structural stability of the bulkheads. There will have to be an arrangement on maintenance, as well, with town staff likely assuming some of those duties.