In Kitty Hawk, a debate over a beach access

By on March 5, 2021

Supporters say a new beach access is badly needed in Kitty Hawk.

During its March 1 meeting, the Kitty Hawk Town Council voted 4 to1 to approve a survey of Hurdle Street, an undeveloped “paper” street that the town is eyeing as a potential site for beach access parking, which some officials say is woefully needed in the municipality.

The move is the first step in potentially developing a beach access on the Hurdle Street property, which is a dedicated town street that appears on municipal maps but was never built. Now just a sandy trail, it is located just south of Stack’ em High on the east side of U.S. 158. 

Kitty Hawk Mayor Gary Perry initially brought the possibility of developing beach parking at Hurdle Street to the town’s Recreation Committee for consideration last fall in light of the town’s need for beach parking. Currently, Kitty Hawk has 266 beach access parking spaces, with eight of those being handicap spaces. By comparison, neighboring Kill Devil Hills has roughly 550 parking spaces dedicated to beach access.

But turning that site into a beach access has become a controversial topic in Kitty Hawk and is opposed by some residents who have been emailing council members with concerns that range from potential flooding and dune disturbance to increased traffic and an overcrowded beach.

Scott and Eileen Sisolak, who own property on nearby Hallett Street, are among those who have voiced concerns over the prospect of a beach access at that location. In a Dec. 30 email to Perry, they asked that the town not move forward with the project.

“We understand that you have a tough job trying to meet the needs of all the residents of Kitty Hawk,” they wrote. “However, this proposal is not going to solve the problem of beach access because the beach at the end of Hurdle Street is just not wide enough and way too prone to flooding.”

At the March 1 Town Council meeting, Councilwoman Lynne McClean, who voted for the survey, shared an anecdote about a mother who lives year-round in Kitty Hawk Village and can’t find parking to take her family to the beach.

“I think that mom deserves to take her kids to the beach as well as our visitors deserve to be able to go to the beach and have access to the beach that’s safe for them,” McClean asserted. “I think we need to start looking at finding every spare parking place in Kitty Hawk that we can on the east side of [U.S.] 158.”  She also floated the idea of directing staff to identify potential parking spaces in other locations that could be used as soon as this summer season.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Garriss cast the dissenting vote, saying he believed the town’s money would be better spent surveying all paper streets as well as assessing parking areas in the town. “This has been a heated issue for some time…Do we have a parking problem in Kitty Hawk for beachgoers? Yes sir, we do. We definitely do,” Garriss said. But he added that there were more pressing issues in the town that demanded attention.

During the March 1 meeting, Perry attempted to address a number of concerns about the Hurdle Street beach access. In response to the issue of flooding, Perry pointed out that the 2022 beach nourishment project would widen the beaches, and that past nourishment efforts have helped to alleviate a significant amount of flooding. He also noted that any parking area would be made of pervious material.

One issue that Perry said needed to be resolved was that of property lines, adding that there were indications that some nearby property owners “may be staking public property as their own.”

“This requires town action to establish who owns what with survey and clear markings,” he added. “Citizens of Kitty Hawk, this is your land, these people are using it as if they own it. They do not.”

Noting that Hurdle Street is in the “spotlight” now, Councilman Jeff Pruitt said that when he went to walk the property, he was met with “no trespassing” signs and didn’t know if he was in the right place.

“We’re not saying we’re surveying it for the parking lot, we are saying we’re surveying it so that the town, the residents of this area, and everybody knows exactly where the street is,” Pruitt said. “I think Mr. Mayor is right by identifying the street.”

He noted the move was in an effort to establish and clearly mark what is town-owned property. To that end, the motion the council passed on March 1 also included a provision to remove any current signage on public property that indicates it is privately owned.


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  • Dylan

    Define “pervious.” Concrete is pervious. Asphalt is semi-pervious.
    Regardless, more hard surface in an area historically prone to flooding is not a good idea.
    But certainly evict the squatters!

    Friday, Mar 5 @ 11:18 am
  • tim

    It would seem better to look at the streets that already have beach access and some parking already. Making more parking available on the many streets KH has that also has a beach access at one end that would not require people walking the beach road to the one nearest Hurdle. A block away is the town bath house and parking lot.

    Friday, Mar 5 @ 12:12 pm
  • Bud

    Best bet is to avoid the Towns completely during summer. Good beaches are elsewhere.

    Saturday, Mar 6 @ 7:07 am
  • Iurus

    Y’all might want to look into § 136-96. State law. Any paper road dedicated to but not developed and opened by the public for public use within 15 years of dedication is deemed abandoned by the public. Ownership and any rights of use revert back to whoever dedicated the property, or their successor(s). They just need to file the claim.

    Saturday, Mar 6 @ 2:23 pm
  • Jim Rivera

    I have been walking the beaches of Dare County from top to bottom and found in this one stretch in question, there was no beach access, only private property and no trespassing signs. The Town needs to assert its ownership and mark it as such even if they don’t build a formal access.

    Sunday, Mar 7 @ 11:49 am
  • Lou Briccant

    Typical OBX local move… “It’s not mine but I’ll pretend it is anyways.”

    Sunday, Mar 7 @ 6:07 pm
  • Tri-Village

    Oh Lou, I would honestly love to meet you in person to discuss your disdain towards locals. If you do not like the residents so much , stay away. No one forces you to vacation here. If articles related to the Outer Banks ruffle your feathers don’t read them. Maybe focus on stories that affect your hometown.

    Monday, Mar 8 @ 4:04 pm
  • Kitty Hawk year rounder

    How about putting up a boys and girls club in that spot for the kids ? Do something for the local tweens and teens.

    Monday, Mar 8 @ 5:01 pm
  • Sandflea

    Good to see Lou can get his digs on locals but we can’t respond in kind.

    Monday, Mar 8 @ 7:54 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Sandflea, the comments page of this site is not a vehicle for an endless back-and-forth slapfest. You’ve had more than your fair share of say and Lou has more comments removed than any other poster.

    Tuesday, Mar 9 @ 9:53 am
  • sandflea

    Sounds good! Thanks!

    Tuesday, Mar 9 @ 11:28 am
  • Louise

    Tri-Village, I couldn’t agree with you more. Have a great day!

    Tuesday, Mar 9 @ 3:18 pm
  • Lucas

    It is slightly disheartening to hear locals on here comment so negatively towards out of towners… You live in one of the prettiest areas in the country which also happens to be a tourist area and the tourist are who support your economy. I live just over 2 hours away from the outer banks and have family that owns time shares and have owned houses in the past. It has been my experience in person that most of the locals are very friendly and accommodating, however if people only read the comments on this page and had not experienced the local people in person, they may think differently. The locals who comment on this page are very typically very uninviting to say the least. Enjoy your peace of heaven called the outer banks and be proud that non residents want to enjoy it as well.

    Wednesday, Mar 10 @ 10:30 am
  • Erock

    The town should def do a survey and remove any fences or signage, if they’re within their rights. If not, they can just take it back over w/a public domain ruling.

    The biggee to me though is, let’s not put a band-aid on it, let’s fix the parking everywhere and improve/re-config facilities to add more parking to existing locations:
    -Remove signs that say No Parking wherever they can
    -Turn the sand lot on White Street into a small parking lot (if they don’t own it just buy it).
    -Widen White Street one car’s width so peeps can park there – just pay the 3 homeowners on the one side a lil cash for the strip next to each of their houses and boom, done, it’s the perfect spot.
    -Re-configure the kitty hawk bath house to the back of that lot and free up an entire center section for more parking. There is no reason why it can’t be built over the septic field back there if done properly.
    -Make a deal w/Kitty Hawk Pier and the hotel to take some spots possibly.

    **I lived there/played there/parked there for 10 years and would say to any homeowner Between Roads: you bought property within a densely populated/highly used rental-income-intensive popular beachfront area, there will be tons of people parking and that’s just how it is going to be. Deal with it and we don’t wanna hear any of this NIMBY crap-o-la.

    Thursday, Mar 11 @ 6:02 am