After almost a decade of planning, the town of Ocean Isle Beach is moving forward with the second phase of its Town Center Park plan.
Since 2014, Ocean Isle Beach officials have been eyeing the property between the Museum of Coastal Carolina and Causeway Drive, hoping to build a public gathering space by the beach.
The town purchased a 1.7-acre parcel adjacent to the museum that year, finalized plans for the area in 2017 and opened Town Center Park in 2020, which has since grown to a year-round hotspot hosting the town’s summer concert series.
But it wasn’t until February last year that the town was able to purchase the final 0.74-acre parcel on the corner of Causeway Drive and East Second Street, allowing it to bring the final plan to fruition.
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“This is a long time coming, and it’s taken a lot of planning and a lot of patience,” Mayor Debbie Smith said. “That’s kind of been the dream, a vision of ours we’ve had for a long time to have a” public park right in the center of town. ”
The park features a performance stage, playground, splash pad, bocce court, restrooms, and walking paths.
The second phase, approved last month, will add a half basketball court that doubles as a pickleball court, a zip line, workout stations, picnic tables, and a 9/11 memorial. The memorial will feature a piece of steal from the World Trade Center, stained concrete commemorating the time of the attack, and seated areas for reflection.
According to a 2021 estimate, the total project is expected to cost more than $ 800,000. Just under $ 400,000 will be paid for through a state PARTF grant and the rest will be matched by the town.
Town officials however are preparing for the price to go up once construction begins, which will take place after the 2022 Oyster Festival in the fall. The park expansion is expected to be complete by summer 2023 and would have “minimal impacts” on the park’s events ..
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Throughout the years-long planning process, most residents have been supportive of the park. But some residents said the area could better be used for parking, with the area often used for parking golf carts.
“This is the last piece of green space on the island and we should preserve it,” said resident Wendy Hughes. “When the concerts are going on there’s always a need for parking and it’s perfect for golf carts.”
Residents like Hughes questioned the need for a park by the beach when the town has a namesake 58-acre park just 4 miles away on Old Georgetown Road.
Smith said the park is an example of successful planning with resident input.
“Our beach is selling point so when we can get folks, tourists or residents, enjoying the beach and town facilities that’s a win,” she said. “This has been such a great addition for ocean isle beach and it’s certainly been well used.” ”
Reporter John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or email@example.com.