A multi-use pathway for Buxton and Frisco took a step closer to being built at the Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting on September 6, as the BOC unanimously agreed to request an extra $200,00 for the project from the Dare County Tourism Board, as part of a larger initiative to secure grants to fund the project.
The project is spearheaded by the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Committee for Dare County, which was instrumental in creating similar pathways in the island’s five other villages: Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Buxton, Avon, and Hatteras.
The Hatteras Island community got its first look at the proposed Buxton and Frisco pathway at a 2019 open house, which provided detailed plans of a proposed 7.6-mile pathway that will run parallel to N.C. Highway 12, and which will extend from the Valero Gas Station in Buxton to the Frisco Bathhouse, just south of Frisco village’s borders. (The open house and subsequent plans stemmed from a feasibility study that was applied for by the BOC in 2018.)
Since that open house, the project drifted out of the public eye, but movement on the Buxton-Frisco pathway project gained momentum in 2022, thanks to the introduction of a new potential grant from the National Scenic Byway program.
Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy and Laura Ertle of the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Committee for Dare County explained the importance of this new grant to the BOC at their April 4 meeting.
“For the first time in nine years, the National Scenic Byway program has announced a [new] grant program” said Goodloe-Murphy in April. “This is a similar grant program to the one that funded the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo and Avon pathways in 2010.”
The National Scenic Byway grant for the Buxton-Frisco pathway would fund the bulk of the first two phases of the project, which have a total cost of roughly $2.48 million.
These initial phases would cover a 4.41-mile stretch of roadway from the Cape Hatters Secondary School in Buxton to Piney Ridge Road in Frisco, which was identified by the public as the highest-priority section of the future pathway at the 2019 Open House.
If awarded, the National Scenic Byway grant program will provide 80% of the funding for the project, but it will require 20% in matching funds. At the April 4 BOC meeting, the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway Committee requested that the BOC approach the Dare County Tourism Board for a long-term, unappropriated grant of $200,000 to cover the matching funds for the first $1 million phase of the project.
Over the summer of 2022, the National Scenic Byway grant application was submitted by the NCDOT and Dare County, and the award should be announced in the fall.
With the application in the works, (and approval of the grant a strong possibility), the request for a second $200,000 from the Tourism Board at the September 6 meeting fills in some of the blanks for the project’s total costs.
“The estimated total for this section of the project is $2,482,800, and we need a 20% match,” said Ertle at the Sept. 6 meeting. “In your agenda packet, you’ll see a tourism impact grant application to be submitted by the Board of Commissioners to the Dare County Tourism Board, asking for another $200,000 in matching funds, if we are awarded this national grant.”
“The Tourism Board’s matching funds, if awarded, will still fall short of the required match, and we are committed to raising additional funds,” added Ertle. “We already have $23,000 on hand, and we have another Fall Festival fundraising event planned on October 22 at the Frisco Woods Campground, and we will continue to look for [additional] fundraising options.”
In the Dare County Tourism Impact Grant application, the Frisco-Buxton Pathway Committee noted that the National Scenic Byway Grant would cover roughly $2 million of the $2,483,800 project, the combined two Tourism Board grants would cover $400,000 of the project, and the committee anticipated raising an additional $83,800 to complete the project funding.
The motion to submit the request for an additional $200,000 from the Tourism Board was made by Commissioner Danny Couch, and the motion was unanimously passed by the BOC.
If the National Scenic Byway Grant is awarded, (with a decision expected by October 2022), construction on the project could start as early as August 2023 after surveys and construction bids are conducted.
For more information on the Buxton-Frisco pathway project, as well as a corresponding pathway project for the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, click here.