Morehead City, NC Town Council: Reverse the ban on the South 11th Street Free Sailing Club!
This petition made change with 224 supporters!
Give 11th Street Sailing A Chance and Allow Small Boat Sailing to Continue to Thrive in Morehead City!
SUMMARY: Recent actions by the Morehead City Town Council threaten a vital community recreation resource that has been enjoyed by Morehead City, NC residents and visitors alike: the hand launching of small sailing dinghies, catamarans, kayaks, and canoes from South 11th Street, Morehead City for small boat recreation on Bogue Sound. This petition urges the Morehead City Town Council to reverse its recent decision to ban overnight storage of hand launched vessels at South 11th St, and to support the "Proposed Regulations for S. 11th Street End Water Access," https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sail-Carteret/1410854595835353
including allowing overnight storage of hand launched vessels. The decision to ban overnight storage affects powerboat users as well, because many groups of small boat users previously used the S. 11th St. access and these individuals are now forced to use the adjacent ramp at S. 10th St or other locations, causing increased congestion for all. Our weekly group alone maintains an email list of over 150 sailors that keeps growing. The ban on overnight storage essentially shut down a local small boat sailing club at S. 11th Street, Morehead City, NC. This community recreation resource has been thoroughly enjoyed for years without incident and has taught Morehead City residents and visitors alike to sail for free on Bogue Sound. Please support the petition!
Morehead City has a history of sailing, as evidenced by Mayor Jerry Jones' recent comments that "We welcome the Coast Guard tall ship Eagle. This is a maritime community with a sailing history. A visit from this (sailing) ship is like a visit from our heritage" (Carteret County News Times, 29 March 2014, http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_e183ed6a-b782-11e3-beae-001a4bcf887a.html). Indeed, Morehead City's own website (http://moreheadcity.nc.gov/) features an image taken from S. 11th St that prominently displays the small sail boats that a group of local residents have been hand launching from that site for years. Longtime resident Gurney Mizell, who grew up in Morehead City, recalls sailboat races almost every Sunday on Bogue Sound, and has watched as sailing small boats and launching from shore has become harder and harder over the years (Carteret County News Times, 4 October 2013, http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/opinions/editorials/article_bc591114-2d08-11e3-a558-0019bb2963f4.html). In Morehead City, the only place left to launch small sailboats is S. 11th St., since currents and waves at other public ramps indicate that they were designed with power boats in mind and require motors to safely launch from. More recently, Morehead City wisely partnered with LL Bean and the American Canoe Association to install small boat racks at S. 11th St (2008) that allow the overnight storage of small hand launched boats. Since the installation of the racks, an active group of local small boat sailors and kayakers have started a "pick up" sailing club at S. 11th St. These racks have allowed this informal club to quickly pull boats off the racks and head out to Bogue Sound for an evening of sailing, traditionally on Thursday evenings from mid-April through October. This informal club has been featured twice in Waterfront magazine and has helped countless sailing enthusiasts learn to sail for free in the protected waters of Bogue Sound. How many coastal communities can boast of such a resource? In an effort to be good stewards of the area, the S. 11th St. users took it upon themselves to register their vessels with the Town of Morehead City and the Morehead City Police Department so that local officials would be able to contact the owners of the vessels stored on the racks if necessary. Members of the informal club helped maintain the area and kept it safe and clean. Weekends are also a popular time for sailing at S. 11th St and the storage racks allow the quick launching of boats and give people the ability to enjoy the best thing Carteret County has to offer: its beautiful waters. For those that don't know the intricacies of sailing, launching a sailboat, including rigging the boat and raising the mast is a vastly different process than launching a power boat, requiring significantly more time and space, and S. 11th St is the only site in the county dedicated to the launching of small sailing dinghies, kayaks, and canoes. In contrast, power boats have dramatically more boat ramps to choose from (http://ncpaws.org/wrcmapbook/baa.aspx; http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/carolina_coast_online/features/outdoors/article_f31b5b8a-6a4e-11e2-a664-001a4bcf887a.html) and the currents, waves, and prevailing wind at these locations are not conducive to the launch of non-motorized boats and show that they were designed with power boats in mind.
Unfortunately, two property owners of VACANT LOTS on either side of S. 11th St grew tired of the appearance of some of the boats, claimed that some of the boats were encroaching on their vacant lots, and noticed that some boats appeared to be in disrepair. These derelict boats were not affiliated with the sailing group. In response to the property owners’ complaints, rather than reference and contact the list of small boat users in its possession to convey the concerns of adjacent property owners, the Town Council proposed to ban overnight storage of small boats on the racks, the same racks which they themselves installed. Many in the community protested the idea to ban overnight storage, attended Town Council meetings, and wanted to work with the City to arrive at a solution that involved removal of derelict boats, but would still allow overnight storage. This would have preserved the Thursday night sailing club but also responded to the concerns of the adjacent property owners. The Council informed the sailing group that not in quite some time had they received as much feedback and interest to any proposal, as they had to their proposal to ban overnight storage of boats at S. 11th St. The users of S. 11th St. were working in good faith with the Town Council to arrive at an acceptable solution, and the Council was scheduled to vote at its January 2014 meeting on a document: "Proposed Regulations for S. 11th Street End Water Access," including allowing overnight storage of hand launched vessels.
Much to the dismay of the many users of S. 11th St, during the Council meeting rather than discuss the "Proposed Regulations...," a surprise motion to completely ban all overnight boat storage was presented to the Council and approved, without the full council in attendance (Carteret County News Times, 15 Jan 2014, http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/article_b5ffac62-7e00-11e3-bda8-0019bb2963f4.html). In effect, the Town presented and passed (on a split vote) a surprise measure that concerned a contentious issue without even having the full council in attendance. The Town sided with the two property owners of VACANT LOTS rather than the many active users of the only public small boat hand launch water access in the area. The Town argued that it wasn't fair to allow small boat users to store their boats on the racks overnight, but there has never been a problem with insufficient space for small boat storage, and the racks were installed there by the town for that very reason. The users of S. 11th St. were shocked and want the Town to give the "Proposed Regulations..." a fair chance.
Please sign this petition, or email, call, or write postal mail to Mayor Jerry Jones, Councilman Harvey Walker, Councilman George Ballou, Councilman Bill Taylor, Councilman Demus Thompson, and Councilwoman Diane Warrender and ask them to honor the negotiations that they began with the users of S. 11th St, that led to the "Proposed Regulations for S. 11th Street End Water Access." https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Sail-Carteret/1410854595835353 Tell the Morehead City Town Council and Mayor Jones that their surprise action was wrong, that you support water access for small hand launched boats and overnight storage, and that continued free "pick up" sailing at S. 11th St is an additional asset that all residents and visitors of Morehead City can enjoy, something that the Town of Morehead City should foster and embrace.
Contact Info (email, phone #s)
or by mail to Town of Morehead City, 202 S. 8th Street, Morehead City, NC 28557
Today: The Small Boat Users of South 11th St. is counting on you
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