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By Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday night, due to the Labor Day holiday, and learned about a proposed project for the Black River. Following the presentation, the Commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for the project.

Danielle Darkangelo, the Executive Director with the Cape Fear Resource Conservation and Development of Wilmington, spoke about the project.

Bladen County Planning Director, Greg Elkins, introduced Darkangelo to the board.

“We are looking at assessing, ranking and prioritizing 200 culverts that lead to the Black River and what we are doing with those particular culverts is looking to see what culverts need restoration or replacement,” said Darkangelo.

She said the Cape Fear Resource Conservation and Development is working with Moffat & Nichol on the project. Darkangelo said the goal is to rank the top five culverts in terms of the feasibility of the project and working with the NC Department of Transportation, to see if those culverts are the best culverts to address in terms of improving the flow of water into the Black River.

Darkangelo said they have received their letters of support for the project from the Bladen County Commissioners and Pender County officials.

“We have done our educational presentation which is what happened when I came previously to talk to you,” said Darkangelo.

She also said Cape Fear Resource Conservation and Development has met with NC DOT to generate a list of culverts to be studied and they have performed a “desktop” analysis of the roads and streams.

Darkangelo said Cape Fear Resource Conservation and Development has also been working with Bladen County and NC DOT to determine who will actually perform the culvert assessments and developing plans for how the work will proceed.

She said two meetings will be scheduled to inform residents, public officials, and businesses and give them the opportunity to learn about the project and give their input. Darkangelo said at that meeting they will have maps available locating the culverts being studied; that meeting is planned for September 27 in both Bladen and Pender counties.

She said the assessment will take place in October and November, and the prioritization and ranking will take place in November and December.

“Working on these culverts, will that create a flood plain?” asked Bladen County Commissioner Mike Cogdell.

“We are looking at particular culverts to ensure the pass-ability is the way it would be if the culvert wasn’t there making the culvert less likely to impede the waterway. That is what we are looking at,” said Darkangelo.

Commissioner Cogdell asked if the project would affect insurance rates in those areas.

“Hopefully, if there is any effect, it will be a positive effect. So yes, that is under consideration,” said Darkangelo.

Commissioner Author Bullock asked about the location of the September 27 meeting. Elkins replied it is scheduled for the Powell-Melvin Agricultural building. Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson asked why the meeting would not be held in Kelly since that is the community most likely to be impacted by the Black River.

“That is certainly an option,” said Elkins.

It was decided to move the meeting to Kelly and a time and location will be announced.

Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins asked, “Do you have enough funds to complete the project?”

Darkangelo said they are close to having all the funding needed. “We do have a little change in funding, so we are looking to bridge that gap,” said Darkangelo.

She continued, “What we are really looking at now, is how to start the plans for the restorations of the culverts that we determine need that attention. So we have actually started to reach out to grant sources and foundations to look at getting that funding.”

The Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding for the project.



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