Wrightsville Beach to use budget process to address mooring enforcement, second park ranger

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The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen will use its upcoming budget process to improve enforcement of town ordinances, including how long boats can be moored in Banks Channel.
One of the items the board will consider during the budget process is whether to add a second park ranger to help with enforcement of a variety of town ordinances, both on and off the beach. The town currently has a full-time park ranger, Shannon Slocum, who enforces ordinances on the beach strand and around town. However, board members will consider adding a second park ranger, who could also be tasked with helping enforcement the mooring time limits.
The park ranger position could be budgeted as a part-time position for the tourist season to add enforcement coverage for times when Slocum isn’t scheduled.
During the budget process, board members said it would consider other ways that it could help enforce the 30-day limit for boat moorings. Last summer, several local residents raised concerns that boaters were mooring their vessels for more than the allotted time.
During the Jan. 14 Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen retreat, town attorney John Wessell said that to enforce the 30-day limit on moorings, town officials would have to have visual confirmation of the boat every day during that period.
“The people on Waynick Boulevard are getting pretty tired of it,” Alderman Elizabeth King said during the meeting. Last summer, King brought forth concerns from residents who said that the amount of boats were causing congestion, while many were unattended and used as rental properties.
One of the proposals forwarded by Town Manager Tim Owens was to install a camera posted at the town’s lift station on Waynick Boulevard that could pan the mooring area of Banks Channel and zoom into boats to track their identification numbers.
However, Mayor Bill Blair said before authorizing $7,0000 for the camera, the town should consider all of the options as a part of the budget process, especially if the park ranger position were tasked with the assignment. Police Chief Dan House said that over time, the town’s officers could also be trained and tasked with monitoring the boats.
“We don’t want to overprice the problem,” Blair said regarding purchase of a mounted camera.
A second park ranger could also help track the boats, using binoculars to note the numbers and keep a running track of the moored boats.
“The goal of this position is to accomplish something with a purpose,” said Blair, noting the need for better enforcement of town ordinances on the beach during early mornings and late evenings, including dog walking.
To add the second park ranger position, the town could choose either a full-time or part-time position, which would be staffed from April through September. Adding a second park ranger would also require the purchase of a new vehicle to accommodate the position, Owens said.

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