New and Improved

by Apr 19, 2024Around Town, South Brunswick

The Town of Ocean Isle Beach completes Phase Two of renovations to Town Center Park and sets its sights on the future.

The Town of Ocean Isle Beach’s acquisition and renovation of Town Center Park has been going on for years. The town’s intention from the beginning was to create a comfortable, useful space in the center of the island to hold larger family-friendly events, including summer concerts, N.C. Oyster Festival, Art in the Park, movie nights and so much more.

In the spring of 2020 the Town of Ocean Isle Beach completed the first round of improvements to Town Center Park. These upgrades included the construction of a permanent stage and pavilion, additional seating around the perimeter of the park, bathroom facilities and a playground with a splashpad for children.

OIB Community Park

The property at the far west end of the park was not developed in Phase One because the town did not yet own it.

“It had been purchased by investors, and we were not able to get the property,” says Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith. “They wanted to use the land to build beach homes for residential communities on the mainland. But that changed recently and the Town of Ocean Isle Beach was able to make the purchase.”

In the fall of 2023, the town broke ground on Phase Two.

“We only added to the charm of the park, so we can offer more for parents to do with their kids while activities, like summer concerts, are happening,” says Ocean Isle Beach Recreation Director Hayley Burgess.

With construction now complete, the improvements to the west end of Town Center Park include a multi-purpose court, a covered picnic shelter with 10 tables, a tot play area and stationary fitness equipment for stretching and light exercise. The multi-purpose court is available for pickleball or basketball and operates on a first-come, first-served basis with dedicated days of the week for each sport.

Ocean Isle Beach NC New Park

Two ziplines for kids are also part of the expansion, one of which is ADA compliant. The zipline was designed and built to make it easier to use, safer and more comfortable for children with disabilities or limited mobility.

Seen as the centerpiece of the new expansion at the park is the 9/11 Memorial and Heroes Walk with seated reflection areas. Placed in a central location where it can be viewed from all sides, the 9/11 Memorial was sponsored and designed by the Coastal Carolina First Responders Association (CCFRA).

“This project is a way to honor all the lost souls in the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001, and to Never Forget,” says Deb Foster, communications director with the CCFRA. “It was designed as an area in which people can gather to pay their respects, admire the artwork and educate younger generations.”

Planning for all phases of the Town Center Park expansion project has been inclusive and responsive. Town staff invited residents, town administrators, commissioners and the mayor to a series of Community Input Sessions, and final plans were based on feedback received at these meetings.

Phase Two has been completed, and the newly renovated Town Center Park is open to visitors daily from 7:30 am to 9 pm.

“I think it just adds so much to the atmosphere of Ocean Isle Beach,” says Mayor Smith. “This is a beautiful park, and it has something for each age group. To me, that is what Ocean Isle Beach is all about.”

So, what is next? Phase Three begins in June 2024 and includes renovation of the old Town Hall.

“We will begin building a new community center on the island,” Burgess says. “Half of the building will be a community center and half of it will be an emergency command center and a large garage for first responders to house a firetruck on site.”

OIB Community Center Rendering

Residents have expressed concern over the years about the need to have emergency services able to respond in a timely fashion during peak summer months as getting across the causeway can be challenging.

“That was certainly the consideration when looking at what to do with the old Town Hall,” Mayor Smith says. “It was absolutely important to partner with police and fire; it makes us safer and more efficient.”

The community center will be used as a gathering space for classes offered by the Recreation Department for residents, holding meetings and as a back-up location for events in the case of inclement weather. Along with this new facility comes 58 new parking spaces.

Lastly, there are plans to extend sidewalks on the oceanfront east end of the island as well as add bike paths along E. Second Street. These additions are expected to be made when the state begins resurfacing roads in the area, which has proven to be more cost-effective.

OIB NC Mayor

Phase Three is expected to be completed by the early summer of 2025.

“I’m excited for these expansions and for the opportunity to grow our recreation department and the programs we offer,” Mayor Smith says.

Follow the progress of Town Center Park and other Ocean Isle Beach projects: