Committee recommends waterfront access fund projects
citizen advisory committee would like to see full-blown proposals for
22 of the 159 projects considered for funding through the state
Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund.
The Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund (WAMI) provided the
state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) with $20 million for the
purchase of waterfront properties and the development of public and
commercial waterfront access facilities.
State leaders created the fund to help stem the loss of working
waterfronts and public access areas as more land along coastal
waterways is converted to private residential use.
“The public has made it clear that more public boat ramps and
docks are needed,” said DMF director Louis Daniel in late
In a plan developed to guide the program, DMF encouraged the submission
of ideas for environmentally friendly, multi-use facilities that
partner with local governments and other state agencies to provide
commercial and recreational fishermen with access to coastal waters.
The period for submission of project proposals closed Nov. 1.
Daniel appointed the 11-member citizen advisory committee to help
review projects. Committee members include seafood dealers,
recreational fishermen, a net shop owner, a commercial fishing
cooperative member, a fishing pier owner, and others.
“Our committee focused mostly on the concept of whether the
proposals fit within the scope of the legislation creating the
fund,” said advisory committee member Willy Phillips, owner of
Full Circle Crab Company in Columbia.
Proposals ranged from fish house, marina, and land purchases to
financial assistance with the construction of boat slips, ramps, and
Committee member Tilman Gray, owner of Avon Seafood, said many of the projects didn’t meet the multi-use requirement.
“The intent of helping existing commercial working waterfronts
seems to have gotten loss. Part of the problem is that the
program places DMF in the real estate business, buying land and
impeding private enterprise,” he said.
Barbara Garrity-Blake, a cultural anthropologist from Carteret County
and advisory committee member, said she hopes those concerns can be
addressed in the future.
“In addition to discussing projects, the committee is also
recommending ways the process could be improved should it continue, as
well as the need for a grant program for fish house owners or leasers
who need assistance in securing access or making infrastructure
improvements,” she said.
The committee recommended that DMF request complete proposals for three
Dare County projects -- purchase of the marina in Manns Harbor owned by
Outdoor Properties III, purchase of the 18-acre tract in Buxton where
the now-closed Pilot House Restaurant sits, and a request for $2
million to help with construction of the state aquarium fishing pier in
Other projects in the northeast region of the state recommended for
further review were construction of a jetty and boat slips on
Department of Transportation property in Tyrrell County, improvements
to a Wildlife Resources Commission ramp in Columbia, purchase of two
acres next to Fishermen’s Wharf in Swan Quarter, purchase of land
on Ocracoke Island for DMF oyster cultch planting operations support,
and funding assistance for a public marina in Hertford.
Committee member Phillips said the Manns Harbor marina proposal is a good fit in the program.
“It’s a multi-use facility that can be used for
recreational fishing, commercial fishing, eco-tourism, purple martin
roosting, and environmental education. It would serve the local
community as well as visitors,” he said.
Phillips cautioned that the selections of the advisory committee are merely recommendations.
The next step will take place later this month when an advisory
committee under the North Carolina Department of Environment and
Natural Resources reviews the recommendations of the citizen panel and
those of a DMF committee.
Patricia Smith, DMF public information officer, said all three
committees would then review the formal proposals and prioritize
projects for funding. She said DMF director Daniel expects to
announce the projects selected for funding in early spring.