By Kevin Cooley
Mayor, Town of Lake Lure
As I’m writing this column in mid-April, it feels and looks like spring has (finally) “sprung” after an unusually long winter. The seasons are a common metaphor for life. Spring is the season of re-awakening, renewal, revival, restoration and rejuvenation. This spring, however, has added meaning for our community as we embark on the mission to revitalize and renovate our aged, 92 year old civil infrastructure… our dam and sewage collection and treatment system. We are also moving forward on exciting plans to enhance Morse Park, our beach-boardwalk and marina, and our historical Town Center.
Folks often ask me if I knew what I was getting myself into by becoming the new mayor of Lake Lure at this time and do I regret that decision. My answer has consistently been “no” and “no”. For me I think it’s the “right time” and I welcome the challenges and the opportunities to get good (and needed) things accomplished.
I could also ask myself and my Lake Lure neighbors and friends if we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to live and invest here. Without hesitation I again answer “no” and “no”. I suspect (hope) others will respond the same way, but I know some will not. My perspective is that we often take for granted our good fortune to enjoy one of the most beautiful places on earth. However, we don’t always recognize our responsibility as its caretakers and stewards. Rather than looking at it as an unforeseen burden or consequence perhaps we should see it as an opportunity to revive, rejuvenate and restore this wonderful place for our remaining time and for many future generations to follow. We can and must work together to get this done now. Unfortunately, it can’t wait for some future generation.
So here are some brief updates about what’s happening with the Town these days:
- Our lake is back at “full pond” and boat permits are “flying” out of Town Hall. The tour boats are running and the beach opens one week before Memorial Day Weekend. The Lake Advisory Board is looking into viable ways to perform shoreline construction projects without dropping the lake level.
- An RFP (Request for Proposal) has been issued to qualified contractors interested in performing our annual lake dredging work to remove the sediments that have been and are continually deposited in our lake from the Rocky Broad River and other tributaries that flow into our lake. Contractor proposals are due by April 28th. Thereafter, a contractor will be selected and a contract negotiated for dredging will resume this fall.
- An RFQ (Request for Qualifications) has been issued to solicit statements of qualifications from qualified engineering consultants who are interested in providing design and related services during bidding and construction for the remediation of our dam. Responses are due by June 1st. We’ll be selecting the best-qualified engineering consultant shortly thereafter and then negotiating their contract and giving them a notice to proceed with the design in July. Meanwhile, we’re pursuing the best long-term financing solution for this project.
- Negotiations are underway to modify the design, bidding and construction observation-administration services contract with our wastewater consultant (Brown Engineering) to design and develop construction documents for a new low-pressure sewage collection system and a new (or refurbished) sewage treatment plant. Dialogue continues with NCDEQ to confirm that this project will satisfactorily address and resolve our chronic, excessive lake water infiltration problems with our existing (obsolete) sewer collection system that runs inside the lake and our malfunctioning, non-regulatory-compliant sewage treatment plant.
- The new public restrooms to be constructed in a portion of the existing Visitors Center in Morse Park have been designed and an RFB (Request for Bid) has been issued. A construction contractor will be selected and construction is expected to begin in May or early June (possibly into July) such that the new restrooms are open in the summer season, well before the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in September when we expect many visitors from around the world who will be attending the WEG at Tryon International Equestrian Center to discover Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.
- A new architect has been hired to redesign the improvements to the commercial strip center that will become the new home of the ABC Store along with 1 or 2 other local businesses. Our goal is to have this building renovated and waiting for the ABC Store to relocate when business slows down in the winter season. Improvements to the exterior of the building will be expedited to enhance its appearance while interior renovations are underway.
I hope that, like me, you are rejuvenated by the coming of spring and looking forward to a great summer season.