Wrightsville Beach, Surf City, Pleasure Island will close all beach access Friday
SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Surf City officials announced Friday that all beach accesses in their respective communities will be closed beginning today.
“The town of Wrightsville Beach by order of the mayor and chief of police has closed all beaches (sound and ocean side) and accesses through March 31,” a Facebook post by the town’s police department stated.
The decision is effective immediately and will remain in place until it’s rescinded or superseded by another declaration, the post continued.
Wrightsville Beach officials said police officers will be patrolling the strand and have the authority to arrest anyone who doesn’t comply.
Officials also said all town restroom facilities will be closed and ask that residents and visitors refrain from using parks and other public spaces.
In Surf City, Mayor Doug Medlin said they’re taking proactive measures and closing all public beach access sites, public parking areas, and town parks beginning at noon Friday.
These measures will be in effect until rescinded.
“In addition, we are urging all business owners and residents to follow the Governor’s Executive Orders for the health safety and welfare of our community. We ask for your understanding and cooperation as we continue to address this evolving situation,” Medlin stated.
Following in the footsteps of other area beach towns, Carolina Beach leaders voted Friday afternoon to close public beach accesses, public parking lots and Freeman Park.
The decision, which passed with a 4-1 vote, is effective immediately. Council member JoDan Garza was the lone dissenting vote.
The town also declared a state of emergency during its emergency meeting.
Prior to the vote, council members discussed at length the possibility of closing the bridge, with chiefs from both the town’s police and fire departments adding perspective on the logistical challenges of a possible long-term closure of the bridge. The chiefs also discussed operational aspects of long-term closures of beach accesses and parks.
Mayor LeAnn Pierce said that she had spoken with Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky earlier Friday about possibly closing the bridge to Pleasure Island, indicating he was not in favor of doing so at this time.
“(Bloszinsky) and I discussed that this morning and we think that, not that that might not come in the future, but at this time, (Kure Beach is) not in favor of that,” Pierce said.
Friday’s emergency meeting of the Carolina Beach Town Council began with an impromptu closed session to discuss “attorney-client matter.” After returning to open session, the town’s attorney clarified what was discussed in the closed session, saying it was to “seek the advice of the town attorney on the limitations and potential liability for the town declaring a state of emergency… and what it authorizes you to do.”
Town commissioners in Kure Beach voted Friday night to declare an emergency and prepare to close access to the beach in the southern New Hanover County town while the community braces for effects due to coronavirus. The declaration gives folks until 8 a.m. Saturday to vacate the beach. Mayor Craig Bloszinsky stated that officers will not be patrolling the beach, but lifeguards will spread the word that access is off limits.
The decisions come a day after area beaches were bustling on a warm first day of spring, amid pleas from health officials for social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
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