April 11, 2018
Community Square Renovation to Take Several
More Weeks; Visitors Urged to Park in NPS Lot
By CONNIE LEINBACH
on Ocracoke is always a problem and it got dicier the last several
weeks as the Community Square lot has undergone renovation.
Long needed, the Ocracoke Foundation, which owns the square, in
February began the project to upgrade the waste water systems for
businesses in the square.
Plans were to have all the work done by Easter, which was April 1, but
that deadline passed, and completion is still several weeks away.
“Nothing happens on Ocracoke the way you plan it,” said Scott Bradley,
foundation president. “This has been an incredibly complicated project.
It will improve water quality in Silver Lake and benefit the whole
The project involved removing the old macadam and installing an
underground wastewater system before repaving. Huge backhoes and
other equipment from Basnight Construction populated the square for
several days in the demolition.
“Then we had four nor’easters in four weeks,” Bradley said.
Although the foundation had wanted concrete installed that could absorb
rainwater (pervious concrete), the logistics of getting this type of
concrete to the island forced a change of plans.
“When it came time for the concrete, that company backed out,” Bradley said.
So, the engineer had to redesign the paving plan, which took a few more weeks.
But Bradley said today (April 10) that Hatchell Concrete of Manteo, is
scheduled to begin the repaving on Monday (April 16), which “should
take two to three weeks depending on weather and other unknowns to
completion, including all time required to properly cure the concrete.”
In an email, Bradley noted that the new design has standard concrete in
the drive lane and the parking areas will have the water-absorbing
paver stones. When complete, the 15-foot by 60-foot septic area
in the middle will be grassy, as will a few areas along the edges of
the parking lot adjacent to buildings.
In the meantime, the square is torn up with piles of debris all over;
the newly installed wastewater system still needs power and to be
tested before it’s operational, which should be in two to three weeks.
Pedestrian safety in the construction zone and lack of highly visible
signage directing visitors to the NPS lot has concerned business owners.
“It’s dangerous and confusing,” said Marcy Brenner, of Coyote Music
Den, which is a year-round business along with the Community
Store. The Den, where they help to promote musical and literary
artists, is her and her husband, Lou Castro’s, life dream.
“It’s frustrating. Every season there’s some kind of disaster—whether a
hurricane, power outage, road closure—and we already have our first
She said she wrote a letter to the foundation board describing the impact to businesses and lack of timelines.
Basnight crews today installed orange-webbed construction fencing around the area only.
He noted that the businesses—the Community Store, Coyote Den, Trixie’s
Fineries, The Fudge and Ice Cream Shop and Kitty Hawk Kites—are open
and that a few parking spaces are available.
“If people want to get to the businesses, they’re getting to the businesses,” he said.
While Easter weekend was one of the best in recent memory with warm,
sunny weather, rainy and raw weather has returned in the last few days.
But it’s still the off season and “people aren’t here now,” Bradley said.
Until the work is complete, visitors to the square are urged to park at
the NPS lot at the south end of the village near the ferry terminals
from which they will have to walk a little farther.
Additionally, the Ocracoke Youth Center has OKed for visitors to park behind the Village Thrift across from the square.
Overall, once complete, Community Square will lose about six parking spaces, further reducing “downtown” short-term parking.
Other nearby shop owners say their parking areas are for their staff
and customers. One, who declined to be identified, noted that there
have been several fender-benders and animals hit by visitors leaving
their cars there all day.
Parking on the island is an educational thing, noted Tim Parker, whose
business T.J. Outfitters is across from Community Square, and who
constantly educates visitors about parking.
“People who don’t know the island expect to see the acres of parking like in the rest of the world,” he said.
Changes In The Works This Year at Community Square