Plans for Emerald Isle events center on hold

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EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WITN) - Plans by the town of Emerald Isle to build an events center have been put on hold after county commissioners voted against providing the funding for it.

Officials with the town of Emerald Isle say Carteret County Commissioners have expressed interest in having a meeting and events center, but decided not to approve a funding request that would allow them to purchase a section of land for the center.

The town was hoping to build the facility through a public-private partnership and had asked the county for just over $400,000 in economic development funds.

Officials say they were hoping to close the $600,000 deal on an abandoned go-cart track just off of Islander Drive.

Town manager Frank Rush says he is anticipating that the county will reconsider their funding request on May first.

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It's through transforming an abandoned plot of land that one Eastern Carolina town says they hope to bring more spending and businesses to their community.

The Town of Emerald Isle says the theme for one abandoned go-kart track is: out with the old and in with the new. They announced that they're replacing it and are in the beginning phases of bringing a meeting and events center to the area.

The town says their goal is to have finished purchasing the 1.8 acre plot of land by June.

Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush says once the process of building the meeting and events center begins, it will fill a void not just for the town, but also for southern Carteret County.

Rush says the goal of bringing the center is twofold, giving meeting space and boosting the town's local economy by bringing in business during the town's off-season.

"The reality is, those kind of groups, they're going to other communities right now, so we would like to bring some of that business to Emerald Isle, and ideally, we want to try to bring these groups in the fall, and the winter and the spring, so they can visit our restaurants, visit our shops, use the lodging here in Emerald Isle," Rush says.

He also says the the town has the land under contract for $656,000, and he says clean up costs bring the total to around $715,000 to purchase and prepare the land.

The town is scheduled to meet with Carteret County on April 17th about economic development funding to help purchase the land.

The town says they hope to find a private partner to help build the facility.