Two possible boat ramp layouts were presented to the public at an open house at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building on Wednesday evening, March 29.
The event was hosted by Dare County, with refreshments provided by the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association, and proposed preliminary designs were on display for visitors to peruse. In addition, staff from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission were available to answer questions, and to collect feedback from the public via written comments and verbal suggestions.
The potential new boat ramp will be placed at the Rodanthe harbor, directly north of the emergency ferry dock on the end of Myrna Peters Road. In both proposed maps, the site will feature a double lane dock with a center floating dock, which connects with the federal navigation channel Blackmar Gut, and the ensuing Pamlico Sound.
The exact location of the boat ramp is the same in both proposed plans, but the main difference between the two options boils down to parking.
In Draft Plan 1 of the scoping maps, the parking area would consist of 16 spaces for vehicles with trailers, which would be located just south of the proposed boat ramp and the current emergency ferry dock. In Draft Plan 2 of the scoping maps, the parking area would be adjacent to the boat ramp itself, as well as Myrna Peters Road, with 14 total spaces for vehicles with trailers.
“Essentially, one requires moving the stormwater basin, and one involves clearing more of the wooded habitat,” said North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) Facility Construction Engineer Sara Sherman.
Both Sherman and her NCWRC college, Section Chief of Engineering Gary Gardener, were on hand to answer questions about the proposed ramp and to explain the differences between the two, as well as the process ahead.
“It seems to be an even response so far [on preference],” said Sherman, “although a number of people have said to build both.”
In addition to members of the public, which included business owners, fishermen, and other locals with a stake in the success of the new boat ramp, Dare County BOC members and staff were also in attendance to gauge the public response.
“I have my own personal preference, but we’ll support whatever the public wants and go from there,” said Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard. “We’re very excited to see the [boat ramp] come to fruition, and to work to make it happen. The locals need this opportunity.”
“We’re also amazed at the number of people here,” said Woodard at the crowded open house. “It’s wonderful that so many people are coming to provide their input, and are excited to see it built.”
The land for the boat ramp was granted by Dare County, and the project is being funded by the NCWRC. Once the public feedback is accounted for, the NCWRC will present the preferred option to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as well as other organizations, like the Division of Marine Fisheries, to begin the permitting process and / or ensure there are no concerns with the proposed plans from various agencies.
“Basically, we’ll keep whittling [the process] down until we have a feasible plan,” said Gardner. “Then, once we have a formalized set of plans, we’ll bring it back to the county and work on final permitting and funding.”
“The best case is that the ramp is a year out, assuming the permitting and funding is squared away,” he added.
So, while the anticipation for the new boat ramp is high, it will be at least a year until all the permits and permissions are in place to move forward. But the end result will be a much needed public NCWRC boat ramp on the island – which will also be the first of its kind.
“Hatteras Island is sorely deprived of soundside access,” said Hatteras Jacks store owner Ryan White, who attended the public open house. “…[and] the sound is a great area for watersports, fishing and family fun.”