Slocum Creek Recreation Area has yet to open

Havelock commissioners agreed to seek more state money for more work at the Slocum Creek Recreation Area, even though the area is behind schedule and not open to the public.

The additional $181,000 from the Public Beach and Coastal Waterfront Access Fund would pay for restroom facilities, a large patio and walkways to be located in the middle of the recreation area that front Slocum Creek off Church Road.

The city had already applied for the grant once but was rejected. However, state officials informed the city that more money was available in the 2016-17 cycle and that the city was eligible to apply again.

The recreation area, which includes a kayak launch, was originally scheduled to open this summer. The area remains closed as grass needed to stabilize the dirt in the park hasn’t grown sufficiently yet. No opening date has been set.

The project has been downsized compared to original plans of two years ago due to budgetary constraints. Commissioner Peter Van Vliet questioned if the current plans are affordable.

“How in line are those plans with our actual budget,” asked Van Vliet. “I am asking more in consideration because we had a full driveway at one point and now we only have one third of the driveway and a third of the parking. Are we looking at numbers that are reasonable and the plans are reasonable in relation to the numbers?”

City Manager Frank Bottorff said the budget was “pretty reasonable” and that the size of the patio could be adjusted to match the budget. He said the current budget for the bathroom facility is $72,000.

“We’re fairly confident that we can get a pre-fab bathroom for under $75,000,” Bottorff said. “Whether we can get it low enough to include the concrete is another question.

“I want to make sure that there is a realistic expectation of the plans, with the vision, with the budget because it seems that there is always a large disconnect. I know that was very frustrating when we went through that with the driveway, especially for us, because we had this vision.”

Van Vliet said that there was much disappointment when that vision had to be scaled back drastically because of budget issues.

“I want the expectations to be realistic. That’s all,” said Van Vliet.

“I understand and I think that this is realistic,” said Bottorff.

Commissioner George Corbin expressed concern that the parking lot was not big enough for the numbers of people who will want to use the facility.

“Hopefully if it gets that busy, we’ll find the money to be able to finish the rest of the road,” said Mayor Will Lewis.

The original plan was for about 42 parking spaces, but now there are only seven.

Stormwater regulations that cap the amount of impervious spaces on the 2.5-acre site have also impacted plans.

Commissioners decided to meet at the site in the near future to discuss the plans.