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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Tonight, neighbors of a New Hanover County boat ramp and the boaters who use it will discuss limiting the access from 24 hours a day to sunrise to sunset. Some people who make their living on the water say closing the Trails End Boat Ramp after dark would be detrimental.

Some Masonboro Loop residents say traffic at all hours of the day is too much, but many boaters feel having 24-hour access to the ramp is crucial.

“Many of our commercial fisherman fish at night, or they might come in late, and of course they need to be able to trailer their vessel and take it on home,” commercial fisherman Bill Hurst said. “That way their catch doesn’t spoil, so that’s important.”

Hurst said he wants with all his heart to keep the ramp open, but Trails End Road resident Kelly Thompson and her husband favor limited hours.

“The traffic is crazy,” Thompson said. “I have two small children, so it does concern me that people do not observe the speed limit, and they are traveling down the road way over the speed limit; full-size trucks, boats.”

Thompson said she does not think anyone needs to be pulling a boat on her road at 2 a.m., and if they have to, the boaters should find a ramp that’s not in a neighborhood.

But boater Al Smeilus says flounder gigging, among other things, has to happen in the dark. He feels it’s a safety issue, too.

“I have been stranded at night and had to come in late after dark, and if the place was closed, I’d be caught in the rain in a rain storm and my boat would be sinking, and I couldn’t pull it out. That just isn’t fair and isn’t right,” Smeilus said.

Thompson said, “I just think if everyone could show a little respect, which I think everyone has kind of lost nowadays. So if you could show respect to the residents of Trails End Road, we would be happy.”

Hurst agrees to a point.

“I can understand if people tend to get rowdy and noisy, and we don’t want this, but respectable boaters are going to realize that and do their best to use the facility in the proper way that it was intended,” he said.

If you have an opinion on whether the ramp hours should be limited or remain unchanged, a public meeting to discuss the proposal is set for 6 p.m. at the New Hanover County Government Center.

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