At the Dare County Board of Commissioners retreat held Jan. 27, Hatteras Island Commissioner Danny Couch asked for and received unanimous support to send an amendment to the Hatteras Village Community Center District charter to the General Assembly.
The board of trustees of the district is asking that the powers clause of the district’s charter be amended by adding the following:
“To do any and all other acts and things reasonably necessary to enhance the Hatteras Village Community Center District including, but not limited to, multi-use pathways.”
The Hatteras Village Community Center District is a special tax district in Hatteras Village that was established in 1981. The district is subject to a special ad valorem tax on all taxable real property for the purpose of maintaining and operating the Hatteras Community Center and other district owned properties.
The amendment would allow the district to spend tax funds to design and build pathways or sidewalks in the village, but it would also give the district more freedom to use tax funds for projects that would benefit the community outside of the district properties alone.
“We’ve had other projects we wanted to do in the past, but the way it’s set up, we can only do improvements to property that we own,” says Ricki Shepherd, a trustee for the Hatteras Village Community Center District. “That’s what we’re trying to change. This gives us a little more leeway for things that we can do for the community.”
Some 71 people at the village’s civic association annual meeting, held Jan. 25, enthusiastically supported the action. The ensuing request to the Board of Commissioners came from the board of trustees of the Community Center district, and Danny Couch says that the request was unanimously supported by the board.
“The commissioners gave their blessing and endorsed it, but it has to be done on the General Assembly level,” says Couch. “We will be talking with Beverly Boswell and Bill Cook [soon.]”
Other communities on Hatteras Island, such as the tri-villages and Avon, have already established multi-use pathways for visitors, and Couch says a similar project is especially beneficial for Hatteras. “This is an important cause,” says Couch. “We have a tremendous opportunity in Hatteras Village. When you look at Hyde County and Ocracoke gearing up for a passenger ferry and talking about trams, we have to think ‘What are we doing here to get visitors on the ferry?’ We need to focus on economic revitalization in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. [With a multi-use pathway,] the village will be up and running, and will have the appeal of the Duck and Manteo waterfronts.”
Funding for future multi-use pathways won’t solely rely on district taxes, and additional options for funding the project are actively being looked into. “The Outer Banks Scenic Byways [Committee] is going to help us in any way they can, so we are definitely working together for this project,” says Shepherd .
“We’re behind the eight ball for a good part of the season for 2017, but if we can get this bike path rolling and clean up the village, it can help us get ready for 2018,” says Couch. “[With this initiative], we’re doing something for ourselves. We’re a resilient people, and we take care of our own.”