Nags Head’s shopping list includes old Dowdy’s

By on March 21, 2012

Hurricane Irene flooded Fin N' Feather. (Rob Morris)

Town officials are looking at acquiring open space and have their eyes on a handful of properties, including the now-closed Fin N’ Feather Waterside Inn on the Nags Head-Manteo causeway and the Dowdy’s amusement park land.

Town commissioners are negotiating with Fin N’ Feather to buy the site, Mayor Bob Oakes said. The location is attractive because of its potential as a public boating access.

Motel owners were expected to respond to the town’s offer by Wednesday night.

Built in 1968, the Fin N’ Feather went out of business last September after it was damaged during Hurricane Irene. The gross market value of the 10-room motel on Pond Island is $860,100, according to Dare County tax records.

The motel is still standing at the site. If the town does purchase the property, it would raze the building and construct a parking lot and boat ramp, Oakes said.

Money for land acquisition would likely come from the town’s fund balance and anticipated increases in sales and occupancy tax revenues that officials expect this year, according to the mayor.

The town, he said, has a significant fund balance of between 60 and 70 percent. State law requires an 8 percent fund balance.

“We are looking for the best bang for the buck for the town,” he said.

Dowdy's amusement park down several years ago.

Other properties on the town’s list include the Dune Burger at Whalebone Junction, the old Dowdy amusement park site on the bypass at milepost 11 and the Dowdy go cart site on South Virginia Dare Trail near Tortugas’ Lie.

The board is also looking at five acres of vacant land between the highways at milepost 13, just south of Jockey’s Ridge known as the old post office lots.

“We are looking for the best deal for the town to acquire more open space,” Oakes said. “There are not many large tracts left. In 20 years, the land won’t be there and there will be a huge value in having open space.”

Owners of the Dune Burger, also damaged during the September storm, say they plan on re-opening the drive-in restaurant at Whalebone Junction in several weeks for the tourist season but plan to put the property on the market soon.

Doug Graham said he and his wife Dorothy purchased the Dune Burger back in 1978. Now 81, Graham said he is ready to sell the property.

“We’ve had it long enough,” Graham said last week.

Dune Burger is next to Whalebone Park. (Rob Morris)

The town is currently developing Whalebone Park to the north of the Dune Burger site. Roberta Thuman, the town’s public information officer, says the one and a half acre park is now in the first phase of construction. When completed, itwill include a playground, walking trails and possibly a bocce ball court.

Thuman said the town is waiting to hear whether it will receive a $75,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources before it moves into phase two.

The Dune Burger property has a gross market value of $537,500, according to Dare County tax records.

The old Dowdy carnival site at milepost 11 across from the Outer Banks Family YMCA is listed by Harrell & Associates for $2.45 million and is on 4.9 acres. It is located just north of Nags Head Elementary School. The county tax office lists the gross market value of the property as $2.8 million.

The old post office site at milepost 13 is listed by Southern Shores Realty for $1.25 million.

The go-cart site on the beach road has a gross market value of $1.4 million.

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August 19, 2013 11:11 pm

baseball field and big ig big dog park and stop raisig the taxes, non motorized boat ramp

Joseph Crosswhite

May 25, 2012 7:20 am

Like it or not the town of Nags Head is a business. In any well run business you have to invest in the future of that business. As a large tax payer in Nags Head and someone who hates paying taxes, I applaud the town for their vision. It is hard to make those decisions when times are tight, but it’s better to buy now while prices are much lower than they will be ten years from now.


March 30, 2012 9:16 am

That’s a Burger used to be on the north corner of

“That’s A Burger” was a long standing burger joint on the north side of soundside road, acoss from the church. Looked alot like Dune Burger. We’re talking Soundside road not Hull street.

obx summer girl

March 29, 2012 7:44 am

to @M: What-A-Burger is from my hometown in Richmond. Never heard of a Thats a Burger. Must have been before my time.


March 28, 2012 9:45 am

It was called “That’s A Burger” by the way, newbie.


March 26, 2012 3:31 pm

Glad to hear that the Town wants to ensure there’s open space. The Town should also consider establishing a land trust where property owners could deed their land in perpetuity.

Want to see property values increase? Reduce the supply of property while ensuring open space. That’s a strategic vision that would create a win-win!

Just Me

March 26, 2012 10:35 am

Raises for Town and COUNTY employees would be nice. It’s sickening the way money is being spent and most worker’s on the Outer Banks work every day and can’t afford a vacation for themselves or their families. Why aren’t more people complaining about the wages on the Outer Banks? There’s obviously plenty of money being spread around for other things, but no one seems to care about taking care of the people who help make this place so wonderful for visitors.

Robbi V

March 25, 2012 7:41 pm

I’m not a resident of NH (Manteo, instead) but what about an off leash dog park?? the one in KH to a long drive from our end of the world.


March 25, 2012 6:56 pm

Maybe the space @ Dowdy’s, which is adjacent to NHES, could become a ball field shared by the school for PE space and by the public after school hours.

But with that much surplus money, why not give town employees, who haven’t seen one in a while, a raise?


March 25, 2012 2:42 pm

N H aint gona lower anyones taxes, If they do that they cant buy all this PROP!!

Bob Samuels

March 24, 2012 2:52 pm

I believe that when municipalities purchase land for public use or open space it is a great idea. Timing has alot to do with it and now is the time while the cost of purchasing property is at a 10 year low. The Nags Head taxpayer should reap the benfits of this investment with higher property values and a better quality of life.
I’m for multi-use of Dowdy’s – keep the existing building (if salvagable without too much cost) and parking lot by the by-pass. Renovate the building into something that appeals to a cross-generational population and the remaining area can bet made into athletic fields, tennis courts, or even a community garden. It’s a perfect location, across from the YMCA, next to Nags Head Elementary and 2 blocks from the Nags Head Lifesaving station and beach access.
As for a boat ramp where the Fin & Feather is, I’m with Jim C. I’ve had my boat back in the “pond” on a few occasions and it is VERY shallow. If Nags Head feels that it is necessary to purchase the property, I’ve got a better idea. Put in a picnic and fishing/crabbing area and maybe a non-motorized boat launch. Jet skis disturbing the folks in this area and stuck motorboats in the pond doesn’t seem like the best use of taxpayers money.
Dune Burger – I’ll miss those mustard burgers – can’t wait to get my last ones this summer:)


March 23, 2012 8:58 pm

More Town own land??? The causeway has a fishing bridge, a fishing pier, an access to launch canoes or kayaks, and a beautiful remodeled state boat ramp. Let’s get real. This reminds me of a few years ago when the town wanted to buy more artwork. Luckily better heads prevailed and hopefully it will this time. The Dowdy property, if it could be gotten for a reasonable price, could be purchased by the school board and used as a playground or ball field. Any thing else is just arrogance while there are other needs such as a beach nourishment maintenence program. Here is a good idea, lower my taxes!!!!

barry brockway

March 23, 2012 4:43 pm

I congratulate the Nags Head Board of Commissioners for having a long term vision for what will be best for Nags Head. While these decisions are difficult in hard economic times i guarantee it will be lauded by my grandchildren many years from now. Thank you for thinking about the future.


March 23, 2012 10:31 am



March 23, 2012 7:59 am

N H cant say TAX BREAK!!!

John T

March 23, 2012 5:19 am

The Dowdy’s parcel would make a great place to set up the carnival that so many folks desire.It would also be a great way to preserve the history of the property.

Jim C

March 22, 2012 7:56 pm

Mom I agree that if we’re spending money let’s spend it on things for kids & families.There are ball fields at the parks & recs behind TJ Max nice place with good folks.It was that’s a burger I loved it

Nags Head mom

March 22, 2012 11:31 am

How about some ballparks? The town has no baseball or softball fields and few places for pre-teens and teens to engage in sports outdoors other than the cliched surf, skim and swim. There are other interests on the OBX besides water-based activities. It is a shame that there are so few ballfields in Dare County for both genders. Nags Head Elementary School doesn’t even have enough open space for many outdoor physical education activities. The PE teacher does a great job with what he’s been given, but to see the open space at Dowdy’s when the school has little burns me up.

John T

March 22, 2012 11:10 am

Why on earth do we need another boat ramp on the causeway?We have a first class ramp with plenty of parking across the bridge.Try again Nags Head…..


March 22, 2012 10:42 am

We’ll miss Dune Burger, but if it has to go the best use is park and green space. There’s not enough of it and most of the open land has gone to mcmansions. Land put into the commons is a good investment.

Jim C

March 22, 2012 9:24 am

A boat ramp at Fin & Feather really??!! To launch what Jet Skis & row boats? Anyone who’s operated a boat in that area knows that it’s about 1 foot deep in most places & there’s a state maintained boatramp on the other end of the bridge.How about using the excess funds to help lower the year round residents taxes?

obx summer girl

March 22, 2012 9:10 am

I can’t believe Dune Burger will be closing. Reminds me of the old What-A-Burger. We will all miss you!!


March 22, 2012 8:31 am

The town of N H is living the dream BABY!

Jackie Harris

March 22, 2012 8:26 am

Sounds to me like that the Govt. Powers have been over Taxing the NH residents if they have 60 to 70 % in fund balance, maybe they should consider reducing the taxes!, They could also pay off the sand tax bill!.


March 22, 2012 5:25 am

why don’t the town quit going into business of spending money and take all this money they have an lower the tax rate. IF this year is not as good as they think, then I guess our taxes will go up. But I guess BOB KNOWS ALL

george mendelson

March 22, 2012 4:30 am

It is good to see that Nags Head continues to acquire land for public use. There is little enough vacant space left on OBX. We certainly don’t need any more box stores or McMansions. Keep up the good work.


March 21, 2012 9:05 pm

Very informative article, wish other towns would follow suit and create mor open spaces. Keep up the good work Wagner. Obxjoe


March 21, 2012 8:35 pm

The town of Nags Head is not a very good steward of what it already owns. Why not improve the care of what is already been purcased rather than gobbling up more private property that generates taxes and employs poeople rather than continuing to covet the neighbor’s a**.


March 21, 2012 4:36 pm

What about the boat ramp just over the bridge across from Pirates Cove that was just rebuilt? Is it really too far to drive 1/4 of a mile more? Besides there is a traffic light there. If the Town of Nags Head has so much money why don’t they pay off the beach nourishment project or lower taxes? Will they ever learn?


March 21, 2012 4:35 pm

A public boat ramp on the causeway would be nice to have.

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