Regional branding and beautification to be considered

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Employee initiative plan unveiled 

After garnering support from both the Wilmington City Council and New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, a Regional Branding Initiative will be presented to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen at its Thursday, Sept. 12 meeting. 

Initiated by the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the proposal is billed as a way to create a brand conveying the unique image and experiences found in New Hanover County and northern Brunswick County to compete with other metropolitan areas for economic development. 

Presenting the plan at the board’s meeting will be Wilmington assistant city manager for development Roger Johnson and Beth Schrader, New Hanover County strategy and policy manager. 

In the group’s presentation, the list of people and organizations that would be involved in the branding initiative includes civic and educational organizations, as well as representatives from the community, businesses, infrastructural organizations and economic development organizations. 

During the Aug. 13 Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee meeting, it passed a resolution recommending the board of aldermen not support the branding initiative. At that meeting committee member Sue Bulluck and Alderman Darryl Mills said they were concerned about the idea of grouping Wrightsville Beach and New Hanover County with other areas of the region that have less economic development. 

Another presentation to be made at Thursday’s board of aldermen meeting is the concept plan for streetscape improvements in downtown Wrightsville Beach. Led by the nonprofit Wrightsville Beach Foundation with the help of Mihaly Land Design, the conceptual designs include adding features like small parks, brick crosswalks and street side trees. The area included in the plans stretches from the Causeway Drive and Waynick Boulevard intersection along North Lumina Avenue to Columbia Street. 

In his memo to the board of aldermen, town manager Tim Owens said the foundation wants to begin fundraising for the project but the board and town staff must consider several things before allowing the project to continue. Those considerations include finalizing the cost and designs, gauging community interest, approving of the replacement of area underground utilities and approval by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

The board could choose to set a public hearing for the downtown beautification in the future. 

In addition to discussing town beautification, the board will also discuss the creation of an official Town of Wrightsville Beach flag. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, Owens said he felt a town flag was something that was needed to show pride and for it to be available for purchase by any interested residents or visitors. If the town chooses to use the manufacturer Owens said he has worked with before, the flags would be 3-feet high by 5-feet wide, made of nylon and one-sided. Owens said the cost to the town would depend on the quantity and style ordered but a rectangular flag would cost roughly $48 per flag for an order of 25-49 flags. 

Owens had also suggested the town employ the potential cost-cutting and revenue-generating services of certified public accountant Robert Siegal at the board’s July 11 meeting but that idea was voted down in favor of first allowing town staff the opportunity to save the town money. On Thursday, Owens will present the board with the Wrightsville Beach Employment Incentive Program he drafted using a model for a similar program in use by Pitt County. 

The plan outlines the ways in which full-time town employees can monetarily benefit from any cost savings or additional revenue their ideas generate for the town. The two types of eligible awards listed in the program are a variable monetary award based on 10 percent of the cost savings for a year or increase in revenue not exceeding $2,500; or an award for benefits to the town that may be intangible. Ten of the latter type would be available each fiscal year at $250 each. 

The board of aldermen will have to decide whether to support or alter Owen’s draft program and, if accepted, which two board members to be appointed to a monetary rewards review committee. 


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