When I lived in Wilmington, NC, and now when we vacation there, one of our favorite things to do was take the short ferry ride across the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher to Southport. Once there, we'd sniff around the seafood wholesalers, look at the boats, walk around the historic little town and eat outdoors by the docks at one of the seafood restaurants.
With the Brunswick County coastal housing bubble energized, there has been a lot of talk about what to do about the marina. The commercial fishing industry there is at risk as the big Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway boaters need a place to sip cocktails and build vacation homes. And now, a major new port north of Southport promises thousands of jobs.
Don't they care about my vacation plans?
From the Southport Chamber of Commerce:
Originally incorporated in 1792 as Smithville, its progressive citizens changed its name to Southport in 1887 in hopes of attracting a port. The port went further upstream to the City of Wilmington but this entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the City today.
Now it looks like, finally, Smithville might get their port. From the Raleigh N&O (Southport to be key port):
North Carolina plans to build a billion-dollar international port, a trade gateway that could host the world's largest cargo ships and channel goods throughout the country.
The North Carolina International Port in Brunswick County could handle the equivalent of 2 million 20-foot cargo containers a year within a decade and rival ports in Charleston, S.C., and Hampton Roads, Va.
And it could be a major economic engine -- a significant advantage in North Carolina's courtship of manufacturing plants, auto assembly lines and distribution warehouses.
It could bring thousands of jobs to the state's struggling southeast, said Carl Stewart, chairman of the board of directors for the N.C. State Ports Authority.
State leaders go on to gush about how this will benefit everyone, except, apparently, me. But, my vacation plans might not be ruined yet:
Building the new port would mean dredging part of the Cape Fear River to 52 feet deep.
In Southport, required studies assessing the environmental and economic effects of the new port are yet to be done. The environmental study could take two years.
Derb Carter, interim director of the North Carolina office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said environmental groups will closely monitor construction.
"Anytime you're in a coastal environment like that," Carter said, "there are concerns about the potential impact to water quality, fisheries and other natural resources."
I'm pulling for Derb.