Out on the boardwalk: County seeks $80K for walk repairs
By Jon Hawley
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Pasquotank County is hoping to soon get an $80,000 grant to use repairing the public boardwalk behind College of The Albemarle and Sentara Albemarle Medical Center.
Pasquotank has been pursuing the grant from the N.C. Division of Coastal Management for about six months, County Manager Rodney Bunch said Tuesday. In a sign DCM is interested in funding the project, the agency has asked the county to submit a final application by Aug. 14, he reported.
If funded, the project would repair a seven-foot-wide, 3,440-foot-long boardwalk that cuts around wetlands near COA and then runs along the Pasquotank River behind the hospital. In seeking grant funds, Pasquotank, COA and Sentara Albemarle have committed to keeping the boardwalk open daily to the public and improving signage and parking.
Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Bill Sterritt is running point on the project. He convinced commissioners months ago to support it and hire a grant-writer, Mark Powell of the Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council, to prepare an application for DCM funding. Albemarle Resource is being paid $4,000 for Powell’s work.
Sterritt explained Monday the boardwalk was built more than a decade ago thanks to grant funding and local fundraising that totaled some $300,000. Today, the boardwalk's 25-foot pilings are in good shape, he said, but limited funding has left COA unable to keep up with replacing the walkway’s boards.
The county needs to maintain the boardwalk because it’s a major asset for the area, according to Sterritt and several public speakers who strongly supported the project this week.
The Albemarle Family YMCA is also near the boardwalk and greatly benefits from it, YMCA administrator Dean Mattix noted to commissioners. He noted he, like COA and Sentara Albemarle employees, regularly use the boardwalk when they need to take a break from work.
The boardwalk relieves stress and helps people feel "100 miles away" from work, Mattix said. He also predicted the boardwalk would see more use once it's repaired.
Buck Jolly, a member of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Board of Education, said the riverfront boardwalk is one of the best places to walk in the county.
"This is one of the most beautiful places we have in Pasquotank County," Jolly said.
Helen Banks also said she regularly uses the boardwalk, but has stopped walking the full loop because of its condition.
Bunch said he wasn't sure when DCM would announce funding decisions, but hoped an announcement would come within 30 days of the Aug. 14 deadline for submitting applications. The county will have to match 10 percent of the grant, or $8,000, and Bunch said that probably wouldn't repair the full boardwalk. It may take additional grants or local fundraising to complete the repairs, he said.
The boardwalk's path is visible if one uses Google Maps' "satellite view" and zooms in. There's a dirt area for parking just off COA Drive behind COA near the hospital.