Reprinted from Island Free Press
With the recent approval by the Dare County Board of Commissioners to award a $342,640 Tourism Impact Grant for the Hatteras Village Multi-Modal Pathway, hopes are high that construction on the years-long project can begin as early as February.
The project is a 3.75-mile paved pathway that will stretch from the Hatteras ferry docks to the northern town borders, and will include a loop along Eagle Pass Road, making all areas along the route safer and more accessible.
“The engineers have told us it will be a three-to-four month project, so we’re hoping to start Feb. 1, and by Memorial Day, it will be ready to roll,” said Chairperson for the Hatteras Village Community Center District and longtime advocate for the project, Ricki Shepherd. “Once the Board of Commissioners approved (the funding) at their last meeting, it was like ‘Merry Christmas for us all!’”
The Hatteras Village Community Center District is a special tax district in Hatteras Village 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 Hatteras Pathway project was one of seven Outer Banks-wide projects that were earmarked as the recipients of $814,640 in Tourism Impact Grants.
The designated $342,640 is about a third of the total pathway project cost, estimated at around $1 million, and Shepherd said that there is also an additional $342,000 or so that has already been collected through the village’s designation as a special tax district.
Additionally, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative Board of Directors approved in September $10,725 to help fund the environmental assessment of the pathway.
With 66% of the funding secured for the project, Shepherd is confident that construction can start in the near future.
“Right now, we are just waiting for our CAMA permit,” she said, adding the bid package is ready and as soon as they have the permit in hand, the bid package will go out.
The initial planning for the multi-use pathway in Hatteras village began with a corresponding project to establish the Outer Banks Scenic Byway launched in 2016.
While the Scenic Byway project was in the planning stages in 2013, similar pathways were built in Avon and the Tri-village communities of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo, with plans for pathways in Hatteras, Buxton and Frisco. The 7.6-mile Buxton and Frisco Pathway is slowly in the works. A feasibility study released to the public in 2019, but funding has been a concern.
However, funding for the Hatteras project encountered several hurdles and a little red tape in the years that followed.
In 2017, a North Carolina House bill was passed to allow for an election in the Hatteras Village Community Center District to decide whether part of the property tax revenue generated in the district could be used for the construction and maintenance of the multi-use pathway.
In the May 2018 primary election, the “Pathway Referendum” for Hatteras village residents passed with 94% of the vote, and survey work for the project began in May 2019 by Albemarle & Associates, Ltd., which worked on the existing Tri-villages and Avon pathways.
Shepherd and her colleagues also applied for grants to help secure more funds.
“After the funding (became a challenge), the tax district board decided to pursue this ourselves, and that’s basically what we’ve been doing,” she said.
This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.