This is Dr. Joe Pat Hatem, Mayor of the City of Southport. I would like to talk with you today concerning our Yacht Basin and ideas on how we move forward. This is based on a memo I wrote May 16, 2020. I want to start with a quote from the document. “City of Southport Vision and Core Values: Southport desires to strive for excellence in our government, project a positive attitude, involve our community and protect our citizens by ensuring safe, secure and tranquil quality of life with controlled and orderly growth…maintaining its quiet residential atmosphere and protecting the city’s historic assets.”
What are the goals I see for the Yacht Basin? To protect the City’s beautiful shore and river view. It is iconic, historic, it is why thousands travel to our city each year. It must be preserved and protected. There must be pedestrian safety and access. We are a walkable community. There must be safety with respect to the traffic pattern, it must be efficient, effective, and it must be conducive to parking access, which is another big issue. We want to promote harmony with residential, business, and tourism interests. I want to hear from all interested parties and all citizens will have a voice. I want to see a partnership and cooperation with existing restaurants and businesses in the Yacht Basin to promote historic preservation and economic development. We must have sidewalks, lighting, a storm water drainage plan, not only for the Yacht Basin, but for our entire city.
We are working towards our City Dock being repaired and are continuing to work towards an overall stabilization of our 4000 feet of waterfront. I recommend water quality protection, access management—pedestrian access—traffic safety, appearance standards, historic preservation, signage that is appropriate, building height limit, efficient land use, storm water management, environmental protection, and controlled growth and economic development while promoting a working historic heritage waterfront. This will require not only input from our citizens, but will also require engineering recommendations to help achieve the goals I have listed and goals from you the citizens. The science of engineering will help guide us, just as engineers have done with respect to my goal for regionalization of our sewer system and for the restoration of the Southport Weather Tower.
I have already heard from many citizens and have met with them, masks on, physical distancing, and listened to concerns from traffic pattern recommendations such as making West Bay Street and Yacht Basin Drive one way, to how this may not be possible due to the high tides, to closing Brunswick Street to vehicular traffic, to reversing traffic on Short Street. We must remember the effects of rising ocean levels to higher tides and more severe and more frequent hurricanes, all which will need to factor into the engineering plans and be included in an overall strategic engineering plan from how wide can the roads be , what material to use, how we can preserve permeable surface, parking, traffic patterns, safety, environmental issues and historic preservation while realizing the Yacht Basin is part of the tourism economic engine and helps to make wonderful memories for our visitors, our families and all of us who call Southport home.