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  • Writer's pictureKim McGahey

Coastal Common Sense

It's finally here. The end of the summer tourist season is officially upon us. All the kids are back in school, all the parents are back at work and all the families are back at home. Ahhhh, peace and quiet at the beach.

Living in a resort community is a mixed blessing. We are so fortunate to live in one of God's most beautiful places on earth. But that scenic beauty inevitably attracts the rest of the world that has to live their lives in quiet desperation in some undesirable metropolitan area.

They spend 50 weeks a year dreaming about our uncrowded pristine sandy beaches, warm pounding surf and fresh salty air. They can't wait to escape the fluorescent office tube lighting and bask in the soothing Carolina sunshine with a cold adult beverage. They treasure the thought of ditching the boss and co-workers and instead being surrounded by family and friends in the welcoming confines of our island paradise.

Another bucket of sand, another wave at the pier, another round of putt putt golf - all make their annual pilgrimage to the beach almost a religious experience worth the 50 weeks waiting in the Midwest sweltering summers and freezing winters.

And without those travelers we would be poor and lonely. We need them to flash their VISA cards all around Topsail Island in order to prosper the local business owners and fund all the cool events, amenities and activities that our beach community has to offer. It's a symbiotic relationship that for three hot humid hectic months out of the year has us all sharing the beaches, the roads and the Food Lion. We need their money and they need our solitude escape.

But, ohhhh, the other nine months of the year are such a delight when our quiet paradise is returned to the locals. When we can breeze through the round-about and over the bridge without a 20 minute wait. When we can walk into any restaurant without a two day prior reservation. When there are no flipped over t-boned wrecks in front of Godwins store. And when we can stroll peacefully on the beach without the annoying flapping of 100 Shibumis.

These are the months we savor. These are the times that we need to keep secret from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. The off-season at the beach is the real pirate's treasure chest that we should keep all to ourselves. Let's resist the urge to make this place a year round world class resort and thereby sacrifice our off-season reward.

We saw the Outer Banks seek that year round pot of gold resulting in the ruin of their once pristine island that used to boast wild horses, wild surfers and even wilder local parties. Now they are blighted by big boxes and fast foods. Highway 12 no longer takes you to a sleepy little beach town. It now offers only year round mayhem that locals regret. Let's not be like them.

Rather, let's make sure our civic leaders prioritize our quiet, scenic lifestyle. There's an election around the corner where local offices of town councils, county commissioners, school boards and state legislators need to be filled, so please think hard about the kind of candidates you will vote into those local offices.

Do your homework, be well informed, attend local meetings. Talk to new candidates and incumbents, look them in the eye and ask them the hard questions about how they plan to retain our simple island lifestyle and guarantee us the continued magic of our delightful off-season.

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