Part 3 features island native John Ivey Wells and Vince Rockel, 40+ year island home owner.
Part 2 features Kris Cahoon Noble, Assistant Hyde County Manager and Economic Development Director.
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
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 interest-only loans for the $1.6M purchase in November 2013. The Conservation Fund and Keith & Isabelle McDermott 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, due July 2020. In March 2020, Keith and Isabelle McDermott of London, England transformed their loan of $800,000 to a GIFT. Their extraordinary generosity to benefit our community has reduced the outstanding debt from $1.6M to $600,000.
We will continue raising funds to secure debt free ownership. This will allow lease income to be directed into a Community Fund to benefit island needs as well as used to continue preserving 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 McDermotts, The Conservation Fund, TowneBank and the support of people like you!
Restoration and Repairs: The impact of Tropical Storm Hermine in September 2016, followed by the record-setting [until Hurricane Dorian] 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 80-120 years old.
In Spring 2018 storm water and wastewater improvements were completed, including repaving the parking lot with water-absorbing pervious pavers. These costly [$319,000], environmentally significant investments will greatly reduce run-off into Silver Lake, and were made possible by Golden LEAF Foundation and Community Square Lease Income.
In August 2019 the support structure for the Willis Store & Fish House [ca. 1930], and surrounding dock and platform areas, were rebuilt and 200+ feet of shoreline bulkhead was installed. This $387,000 Project was supported by Golden LEAF, Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Funds, and Community Square Lease Income.
In September 2019 Hurricane Dorian inundated the Island with an unprecedented 7.5-foot storm surge. The new Willis Dock held strong, but the Willis Store, having just been raised 20," was flooded with 18" of water, causing significant damage to the OWWA Exhibit spaces and artifacts. As of May 2020, we are working with FEMA on Restoration of the OWWA Exhibit, with support also from Outer Banks Community Foundation, Covington Foundation and Community Square Lease Income.
The Main Dock by the Community Store was destroyed. Several of the 5 Historic Buildings had minor water damage. We are working with Golden LEAF to rebuild the Main Dock, with construction set to begin in July 2020,
Updates and photos are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Ocracoke-Foundation
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED - PLEASE JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
Restoration & Endowment Campaign
“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
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.