Brad Rich / Carolina Coast Online

NC - Proposed Changes to Parking, Beach Driving in EI Draw Mixed Reviews

EMERALD ISLE — If and when Emerald Isle town commissioners seek public comment on possible changes to the beach access parking fee structure and the time period during which strand driving permitted, they seem likely to get an earful.

The commission, during a 2021 goal-setting meeting Dec. 8, discussed extending to seven days a week the $10 per day fee for parking at the eastern and western ocean regional access facilities. Currently the fee is charged Fridays, Saturday, Sundays and holidays from mid-April through mid-September.

The goal listed from the Dec. 8 meeting states commissioners support charging the fees seven days a week, and staff recommends moving the start of paid parking to mid-March, although town residents and property owners are eligible for two free parking passes.

The parking fees pay for maintenance of the access facilities and salaries for lifeguards, but the proposals are dividing people, in part depending upon where they live.

Maureen Williams, who lives in the Star Hill development in Cape Carteret, said in an email Monday, “I’m very upset! I understand the Friday-Sunday and I support that. I imagine that’s when a majority of ‘guests’ visit the beach. Some weeks we go 3-4 times between Monday-Thursday all summer. It’s why we live here! But that will no longer happen unless I find a friend on the island with room in their driveway.”

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