Atlantic Beach scraps town center project - WNCT

Atlantic Beach scraps town center project

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ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. -

In Carteret County, a town is scrapping its controversial plan to re-locate its town hall.

For months the town of Atlantic Beach was considering building a new town hall at the Circle on the Atlantic Beach Causeway.

But dozens of people spoke against that plan on Thursday, so the council rescinded its motion to build there.

Many people signed a petition against the Circle project, saying it's not worth the $3 million price tag and it would cause parking problems near the beach.

But the mayor says the current town hall still needs to relocate to make more space for the neighboring police department.

"This weekend we had some arrests in town, it was a busy weekend, and we have prisoners that we lock up in the kitchen. It's not a…the facility isn't adequate," said Trace Cooper, the mayor of Atlantic Beach.

The mayor says the town will mail a survey to all the property-owners in Atlantic Beach to find out what they think the best spot is for a new town hall.

--- Original Story ---

A growing number of people are speaking out against a plan to build a new town hall in Atlantic Beach.

The $3 million town hall center would sit at the heart of the community, the Circle, which the town is trying to bring back to life.

Many people voiced concerns about the project at a town council meeting this week, saying it's a poor location for a town center.

"There are a lot of citizens who came to express concern about this and we're upset by it," said Atlantic Beach mayor Trace Cooper.

Atlantic Beach resident Delores Sawyer believes it would strain already limited parking spaces and affect tourism.

"We feel it should be a new town hall, it should be done at the Food Lion parking lot, where there would be no problem with parking," she said.

Another concern is whether taxpayers would somehow have to pay back the developer, Fred Bunn, for donating the $600,000 land on which the town hall would sit.

Cooper says taxpayers would not pay the developer back, but rather, that he would get a tax break for making a charitable donation.

Cooper also says the new town center would not cause a parking problem. The plan includes at least 30 new parking spots, he said.

"The circle used to be a great neighborhood. It used to be the heart of Atlantic Beach, and I think we can bring it back. But I don't think it's going to happen if we sit here and wait. I think we'll be looking at piles of dirt instead of quality buildings," said Cooper.

Cooper says the town will conduct an informal presentation on the town center project May 16 at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.

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