Stories From The Square
In the first of a series of "Stories From The Square," Part 1 features beloved islanders Trudy Austin, Melissa Garrish Sharber, and Mandy Garrish Jones.
2016-2018 Restoration & Endowment Campaign
Part 3 features island native John Ivey Wells and Vince Rockel, 40+ year island home owner.
“OFI’s multi-faceted approach to the preservation of special places like the Community Square serves as a sustainable model for other rural communities, where the potential is great but the funding is limited. We’re honored to provide quick financial assistance for the purchase and revitalization of this beloved community hub and excited to see its transformation.”
Reggie Hall, Director
The Conservation Fund
Land Conservation Loan Program
Part 2 features Kris Cahoon Noble, Assistant Hyde County Manager and Economic Development Director.
The Community Square was listed for public sale in 2009. Our primary concern was losing the Square, the heart of the island’s maritime heritage, to private development. Our intent was to take this valuable island asset, restore and preserve it, and put it to work for the community by directing a significant portion of rental income into a Community Fund and Grants Program to benefit our community.. After working closely with the seller, The Ocracoke Foundation was able to access two interim loans for the $1.6M purchase in November 2013. The Conservation Fund and a Private Donor each put up $800,000.
Retire Purchase Debt: The Conservation Fund was repaid in December 2017, thanks to generous donations, large and small, and a partnership loan from TowneBank. We will continue raising funds to secure debt free ownership over the next 2 years. This will allow lease income to be directed into a Community Fund to benefit island needs as well as used to preserve the 5 National Register Historic structures and two docks. This iconic maritime heritage site would not be in community ownership without the vision, generosity and commitment of The Conservation Fund and Private Donor. And the support of people like you!
Restoration and Repairs: The impact of Tropical Storm Hermine in September 2016, followed by the record-setting flood waters of Hurricane Matthew one month later, make it clear that the 5 National Register Historic structures and two docks require repairs, flood mitigation, and restoration work. A century of storms has taken its toll on structures 80-116 years old.
In February 2018 construction will begin on stormwater and wastewater improvements, including repaving the parking lot with water-absorbing pervious concrete. These are costly, environmentally significant investments that will improve water quality in Silver Lake, made possible in part by Golden LEAF Foundation. Additionally, over $225,000 in grants has been committed to saving and restoring the Will Willis Store & Fish House [ca. 1930]. Repairs, restoration and mitigation should begin later in 2018.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED - PLEASE JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
SAVING THE SOUL OF OCRACOKE
“It’s a preservation victory when heritage and water quality both stand to benefit from a real estate deal.”
Catherine Kozak, Coastal Review Online, Nov. 2013