Havelock residents can expect to see work begin as early as January on construction of kayak launches for the new Historic Slocum Creek Park in Havelock.
“We’re preparing to move ahead with the kayak launch,” said Katrina Marshall, planning director for the city.
The kayak launches are part of Phase II of the multi-year project that is located in the heart of the city.
Marshall is spearheading creation of the park, which has been in the planning stages for the last two years.
The city purchased a 2.5-acre plot on a bluff overlooking a bend in the winding creek in 2013. It cost the city $7,000 out of the total of $185,000 purchase price to buy the land, shared by N.C. Coastal Area Management Act, the Bate Foundation and the N.C. Coastal Land Trust. The land will act as the centerpiece for the park, where two kayak launches will be constructed beginning in early 2015.
Also to be built at the site initially during Phase II are picnic tables, grills, interpretive signage and a modest walkway leading from the bluff down to the kayak launches.
The work is paid for by a $81,000 N.C. Division of Coastal Management grant. Havelock’s portion of the grant was a $15,100 cash contribution plus a $5,300 in-kind contribution.
“We did recently receive the letter from CAMA that we could make the final application for Phase III,” Marshall said Tuesday.
Phase III seeks a $120,000 CAMA grant for a parking lot and improvements to the path leading to the kayak launch. Havelock is paying $30,000 for its portion of the grant.
Long-range plans call for a pedestrian footbridge to cross the creek and connect the central hub to existing properties on the north side of the creek that are already owned by the city. That connection will create walking paths that ultimately lead to the Havelock Tourist and Event Center, with access to the nearby Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels.
There has also been talk about the possible relocation of the historic Trader Store and World War II-era train depot to the site.
Funding has not been secured for the bridge or building relocations.
But for now, easy access to the creek for kayakers, canoeists and other boaters can be made from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission ramp near the foot of the new Slocum Creek Bridge.
Tens of thousands of motorists pass over Slocum Creek every day, but only a few are making time to stop use the creek. The headwaters of the winding creek offer kayakers and canoeists calm water with plenty of nature to view.
“It would be a fantastic place for Marines to take their families,” Marshall said. “It will be a location that all members of the family can enjoy.”
Paddlers can hear a symphony of bird calls and could see an alligator or perhaps a beaver. Anglers have the chance of catching various freshwater species of fish like largemouth bass and bream.
“The location there on Slocum Creek is beautiful,” Marshall said. “It’s right there in the heart of the city, yet you feel like you’re deep in the woods. The natural environment there, the habitat, it’s wildlife at its finest. “
Frank Bottorff, city manager in Havelock and former commanding officer at Cherry Point, said the park gives excellent water access to all of the members of the community.
“I think this is a good access for residents on and off the base to visit. It’s a nice place to potentially have a picnic with the family,” Bottorff said. “One third of the residents of the city of Havelock are Marines, or their families, and we are designing this to be something to add value to each one of our residents. Clearly, when you are talking canoeing and kayaking, Marines are substantial users of those available resources.”