November 19, 2014

Going Public: Rodanthe beach access nears completion


With no public beach access and cars parked randomly along the side of the road, summer in the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo can be a traffic ordeal as visitors try to find their way to some of the best beaches on the Outer Banks.

With the planned completion of the Dare County’s beach access project in Rodanthe by the end of the year, parking on the north end of the area should improve, although the Rodanthe access remains the only public beach access among the three towns.

The 6.2-acre site includes a packed gravel drive leading to 97 parking spaces, a wooden walkway to the beach, a gazebo, and bathhouse with showers. 

According to Tim White, Public Services Director for Dare County, the facility will allow access to the beach for everyone. “We’ve made it as ADA accessible as possible,” he said.

The concept took a number of years to develop. The county purchased the land in 2008 for $800,000 with the intention of creating a beach access, but developing plans and working through the permitting process took a while.

“Two years ago we met with every agency we could think of,” White said. “We tried to fast track the permitting process. They told us generally what permits we would need.”

Crossing a small wetlands, the permitting called for multiple agencies to be involved, according to George Wood of Environmental Professionals, who handled the permitting for the county. 

“We got a CAMA major permit. That was the overarching permit,” Wood said. There were also Army Corps of Engineers permits for the wetlands, stormwater runoff permits and a few others.

Although local government funded the initial purchase of the land, the county has not had to pay for anything else. 

“Everything going in there is grant funded. There’s no local tax dollars being used to build it,” White said. “We received a $400,000 PARTF (state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) grant, $350,000 from the Outer Banks Tourism Bureau, and $130,000 from the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources.”

There are additional features the county would like to include, but they will not be built until the means to pay for them can be found. 

“What was not funded was a covered picnic pavilion, a small playground and a spray park,” White said. “We’re exploring some other grants to get them built.”

The opening of a beach access in the tri-villages is part of an overall improvement in county services seen in the area over the past few years and residents are taking note. 

“The Rodanthe Waves Salvo Civic Association will continue to encourage our county government to help make improvements in our communities as we move forward,”  Mark R. Dingman, president of the association wrote in answer to a question about the beach access project. “Projects like the Rodanthe ocean beach access and the Scenic Byways Pathway are great additions that will no doubt improve our quality of life and economic stability in the future.”

White agrees that the facility will enhance the beach experience. “It’s a nice access to the ocean for everyone,” he said.

The facility should be ready for use fairly soon. 

“It’s our intent to be open by the end of the year or shortly thereafter,” White said. 

However, an official opening or ribbon cutting has not yet been established, nor has an official name for the facility.

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