GARC rescue boat to be donated to WBOR

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Second reading of regulations on surfing and swimming around fishing piers at BOA

In use by United States Air Force Pararescue and Air National Guard, a model of the Greenough Advanced Rescue Craft (GARC)will also be utilized by Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue as a result of a donation of the vessel by one of its creators, Peter McGuire. 

McGuire, a former lifeguard on Oahu’s remote Kaena Point, writer and professor, developed the rescue craft in conjunction with George Greenough, the inventor of the modern surfboard fin, and an underwater videography and boatbuilding pioneer. The headquarters of McGuire’s company, Rapid Response Technology, LLC., has been located in Wilmington for nearly a year and in a July 2012 interview with Lumina News he expressed hopes of equipping WBOR with the GARC. 

At the town of Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting on Thursday, May 9, McGuire will present the town with the donation, valued at $70,000. In a memo to town manager Tim Owens, WBOR director Dave Baker states the hybrid jet ski/skiff construction of the GARC would be an asset to the lifesaving efforts of WBOR. 

“The craft is very stable in rough surf,” Baker states. “It can be used to safely transport EMS patients from remote locations such as Masonboro Island. In addition to these emergency applications, the GARC can be deployed to assist with waterborne special events requiring extended safety escorts.” 

While the GARC would be donated, Baker states the costs of purchasing the necessary safety equipment and installing lights for nighttime operations could be funded from WBOR’s current operating budget. 

The understaffed Wrightsville Beach Police Department will also receive help beginning at the BOA meeting when a new officer, Jeffrey Scott Salyer, is sworn in. During WBPD’s April 24 Chat With the Chief, Dan House said two of his officers recently left the department for positions in the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the Concord Police Department. Although he expected to enter the summer season fully staffed, House said he is now working to fill those officer positions and many of the department’s reserve positions. 

The enforcement of swimming and surfing restrictions around commercial fishing piers will also be decided at Thursday’s meeting. After the board voted 3-2 to restrict surfing and swimming within 200 feet of Johnnie Mercer’s or Crystal piers at its April 11 meeting, a second reading was required due to the lack of a super majority vote. 

Following the April 11 meeting, multiple emails from fishermen were sent to the aldermen and Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti, all of which expressed disapproval of the board setting the restrictions at 200 feet around Johnnie Mercer’s Pier instead of 500 feet. 

It was the recommendation of WBOR director Baker to set the restrictions at 200 feet for Mercer’s and 100 feet for Crystal because that was what Baker felt was safest for all groups and what his staff could effectively enforce. 

In the 3-2 decision, alderwomen Susan Collins and Elizabeth King were the two dissenting votes against the 200-foot restriction and in the second reading the board will only need a simple majority of the same vote to pass the ordinance. 

Crystal Pier will be the topic of another item on the board’s regular agenda in regard to the Oceanic Restaurant utilizing the already renovated portion of the pier dining area prior to the completion of the entire structural renovation. Planning and Parks director Tony Wilson said the Coastal Area Management Act requires a pier’s fishing function to be operational before utilizing any added sections of a renovated pier and the restaurant is requesting permission to continue using the new deck section and the new 6-foot sections on either side of the pier. Wilson said the board’s approval of the request would be contingent upon approval by the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. 

What began more than a year ago with the initiation of the planning process for the Wrightsville Beach Open Space Master Plan will be presented to the board of aldermen for approval on Thursday. Developed by Dr. Jim Herstine of the University of North Carolina Wilmington with the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Department, the plan was approved by the parks and recreation advisory board in January. 

Designed to be a five-year, long-term plan, the master plan includes amenities most commonly requested by residents of Wrightsville Beach. Those items at the top of the list of wants from the 2012 Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey included the preservation of green space, bike paths, a dog park and a skate park. 

email cole@luminanews.

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