The Outer Banks Voice – The next decade of the Soundside event site: what to expect?


The Next Decade of the Soundside Event Site: What to Expect?

By Russ Lay | Outer Banks Voice on March 20, 2019

The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is one of the site’s biggest events.

It’s hard to believe that nearly a decade has passed since the Dare County Tourism Board and the town of Nags Head joined forces to purchase properties that are now known as the Soundside Event. Site.

And as the project completes its eighth year of operation, the Tourist Board is starting to think about how the site will be used in its second decade.

To help evaluate the options, the council contracted with an outside firm to conduct an economic impact and feasibility study to recommend the best use of the property as well as other options.

In an interview with The Outer Banks Voice, Wally Overman, who chairs the Tourism Board in 2019, and Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, explained the process the group will use to help them. to decide what the site should be. used for the next 10 years.

Nettles opened the discussion with a brief overview of the history of the event site.

In 2012, the board hired engineering and consulting firm Heery to recommend the best use of the newly acquired property. The company’s recommendation to the board determined that the best option for the site was to develop the property as a conference center with an adjacent hotel.

Nettles noted that the board at the time didn’t think the community was behind the concept.

However, the property had just been used for the very first Outer Banks Seafood Festival, and given the success of this event, the board of directors voted to develop the land as an open-air site with no permanent structures.

Since then, the event site has hosted concerts, the Outer Banks Seafood Fest, craft beer festivals, food truck rodeos, gatherings of Jeep and other car enthusiasts, and the OBX Brewtag competition.

The site also hosted two off-season carnivals.

At the same time, the board of directors agreed that the event site would be a 10-year project and that the use of the site would be reassessed at the end of its first decade.

2019 will mark the eighth full year of operation of the Soundside Event Site, and Nettles felt it was time to ask the current board for guidance on “where we are at and what do we want to do in the long term.” . Do we want it to remain an event site or do something else with the property? “

He said the board of directors had purchased the property of the South Beach restaurant, which can be used for 60 to 80 parking spaces, and is in negotiations to acquire the Dairy Queen property adjacent to the site, which can supply another 60. parking spaces.

Nettles said he also told the board that other properties may become available for purchase in the future. Aware of the 2012 rejection of the recommended use, he asked board members if they were open to a new study and, if so, if they were also open to considering the recommendation of the study, even if it came to the same conclusion as the previous one. one by Heery.

Nettles wanted to take the board’s temperature because, if they objected to considering any other alternatives, a new study might not be necessary and the need to add more land would also be drastically reduced.

Overman and Nettles both said a lot has changed in Dare County since the 2012 study was published.

“Construction costs have gone up, the local economy is completely different and new things like Airbnb and changing attitudes and preferences of travelers are evident. We now have seven years of experience running an event venue, so it makes sense to revisit and perhaps reset our long-term vision, whatever use the board decides to endorse for them. next ten years, ”Nettles said.

Overman also said the board had just added five new members and no one on the current board was sitting when the 2012 decisions were made.

“I think a lot of them think it’s their responsibility as new members to listen and be open to new ideas and recommendations and they think this new study will help them accomplish their tasks,” Overman said.

When asked if the board had expressed any preferred results before the study’s publication, which is expected in about eight weeks, both Overman and Nettles replied that they had not.

“The only feeling expressed by the board of directors is that the study is carried out in an objective manner. In fact, when we met with Johnson Consulting (the company chosen by the board to conduct the study), they asked us “What are you doing?” [the board] do you want to end the site? ‘ My response was “This is why we hired you! You are helping us determine what is best, ”said Overman.

“There is absolutely no predisposition here for a desired or predetermined outcome. We just want to see which option the study will recommend as well as other options it might identify.”

Before any decision is made, a public hearing will be held, the study published and its recommendations and other options discussed by the Tourist Board, the County Council of Commissioners and in media and social media sites.

While we may not know today what use will be chosen for the event site over the next decade, one thing is certain: there will be no shortage of interested parties and differing opinions.

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