Pasquotank close to third grant for COA boardwalk repairs
By Jon Hawley
Friday, July 19, 2019
Pasquotank County is closing in on another grant to repair the public boardwalk behind the College of The Albemarle.
Pasquotank commissioners voted Monday to send a final grant application to the N.C. Division of Coastal Management for $88,611 to repair another section of the Fenwick-Hollowell Trail. The state agency asked for the application, what county officials consider a good sign the agency will approve its third grant for the trail’s repairs.
The commissioners’ vote also followed another outpouring of support for the trail, as numerous COA officials and other citizens spoke in favor of the latest grant.
Interim COA President Travis Twiford and COA Foundation Executive Director Amy Alcocer said the boardwalk is heavily used by not only COA staff and students — sometimes for coursework as well as exercise — but staff at the nearby Sentara Albemarle Medical Center and the YMCA.
It’s also increasingly enjoyed by the public, Alcocer added, noting it’s a rare nature walk that offers good handicapped access. COA is also trying to better promote the boardwalk, such as through tourism sites, she said.
Albemarle Family YMCA Director Jamie Koch also said YMCA members and staff often use the boardwalk for exercise and activities.
Nita Coleman, a retired pediatrician, noted the boardwalk often offers a break for medical personnel and others who work around the hospital. She also said research is clear that people who spend significant time outdoors are healthier and happier.
Another boardwalk proponent, Jan Riley, noted the trail preserves the native plants and animals along the Pasquotank River, and connects people to nature, not just brings them outside.
If awarded, the phase III grant would pay to repair 750 feet of the boardwalk that was removed from a phase I grant for the project. The canal section of the boardwalk was heavily damaged, so the $84,000 the county got didn’t go as far as planned. Pasquotank’s pre-application to DCM shows the Phase III area includes the path to the kayak/canoe launch, decking and railing around the launch itself, and boardwalk connecting to the canal.
Pasquotank’s Phase II project, also funded through an $84,000 grant, will repair 1,400 feet behind Sentara Albemarle.
Also present for Monday’s meeting was former Pasquotank County commissioner Bill Sterritt, also a retired COA administrator, who encouraged commissioners to seek the DCM grants.
In followup emails on Wednesday, Resource Conservation & Development Council consultant Mark Powell said the COA Foundation continues raising funds to repair parts of the boardwalk that are ineligible for funding through the DCM.
He also noted phase II work should be getting started later this year.