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Letters to the Editor (State Port Pilot)

I would like to address the suggestion made to choose alternate locations for the Market and Festivals. I realize that if someone has never organized and managed a Market or Festival, it would be difficult to understand the challenges and issues. It isn’t a simple process. The Waterfront Market (now the Summer Market) was held on the Garrison Lawn, from 2007-2018 and moved to Franklin Square Park in 2019. The Winter Craft Festival was held on the Garrison Lawn from 2007-2017 and moved to Franklin Square Park in 2018. Yes, there were reasons that these two events were moved, and lessons were learned that we don’t intend to repeat. These two events were moved to Franklin Square Park after permission was given to Downtown Southport Inc. (DSI) by the City Officials. The Issues that were encountered by having these two events on the Garrison Lawn were: Inadequate parking for vendors, citizens, and guests as well as merchants on Moore Street; Inadequate loading/unloading space for vendors; Inadequate access to the Community Building and Ft. Johnston Museum and Visitor Center. By relocating to Franklin Square Park, the events drew the visitors to a more centralized location within our Business District and created a more spacious environment for our events. The Community Building, Ft. Johnston Museum and Visitor Center, and NC Maritime Museum at Southport would also not be encumbered. Any alternate location in the Bay and Moore Street areas would have the same issues. In appreciation for the use of Franklin Square Park, Downtown Southport, Inc. (DSI) donated over
$12,500 to the Department of Parks and Recreation for the upkeep and maintenance of Franklin Square Park and Garrison Lawn. The Summer Market, Winter Craft Festival and Spring Festival occupy only 23 days out of 365 days. According to Scott Len, Southport Forestry Committee: “If you add up all the hours of the markets, concerts, fairs, seasonal events etc., it only accounts for about 2.5% of the hours in a year; if you do days instead of hours, it’s about 9.8% of the days of the year that events are held – That park is not overused by any measure”. We are eager for the City to receive the report from Bartlett Tree Experts. That report will be a tool to
guide the City Officials to move forward with the future health and welfare of Franklin Square Park. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue with our community events such as the Summer Market, Winter Craft Festival, Spring Festival and Concerts in the Park but that will depend on the report from Bartlett Tree Experts and the City Officials.

Peggy Popelars | Southport, NC


Listen to the Professionals

Downtown Southport Inc. (DSI) is very interested in the restoration and maintenance of Franklin Square Park. DSI’s Mission Statement is “Downtown Southport Inc. (DSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the heritage and charm of downtown Southport. We encourage and support preservation projects, cultural activities, educational programs, tourism as well as responsible economic growth in the downtown area, making Southport a vital, vibrant year-round community for our citizens and guests.”. This is evident in the fact that DSI has contributed $12,500 to the Dept of Parks/Rec since 2013 for the sole purpose for the maintenance and upkeep of Franklin Square Park and the Garrison Lawn when the Garrison Lawn was used for events/festivals. DSI also budgeted $5,000 to be used by the Dept of Parks/Rec for the maintenance and upkeep of Franklin Square Park in 2023. Scott Len, Southport Forestry Committee, and Justin Bennett, NCFS Forester met on August 16 and spent several hours assessing the trees in Franklin Square Park. This report can be obtained from Heather Hemphill, Director of Parks/Rec. One of the summary points from the report is, “There are no alarm bells going off. The state of the trees is more a function of their age than any contemporary impact from events”. It is DSI’s understanding that the City of Southport has contracted with Bartlett Tree Experts to provide arboricultural consulting services in the form of a Consultation for trees within Franklin Square Park. This consulting contract costs $3,900. DSI is offering to provide the funds for this project. DSI will obviously comply with their findings regarding the welfare of Franklin Square Park. DSI would like for the Public and City Officials to listen to the Professionals regarding Franklin Square Park, and not listen to emotional concerns which are not fact-driven. Thank you.

Peggy Popelars | DSI President

Downtown Southport Inc. (DSI) is pleased to donate $4,800 to the Friends of the Library-Southport Oak Island (FOLSOI) for the future community commemorative reading garden, which will be located at the back of Margaret and James Haper, Jr. Library in Southport.  Pictured left to right are Peggy Popelars / DSI President, Paul Fisher / DSI Board Member, Dottie Nixa / DSI Secretary, Marion Martin / DSI Festival-Market Chair, Tish Hatem / DSI Vice-President, Carol Brolley /  FOLSOI President, Heather Donnell / Harper Library Branch Manager, Randy Jones / DSI Board Member – City Liaison, Emily Humphreys / DSI Board Member.  Courtesy of Morgan Harper, The State Port Pilot”

Contact Us

Downtown Southport, Inc.
P.O. Box 10127, Southport, NC 28461