by Carol Pritchett
Mayor, Town of Lake Lure
Summer is here and we are all thrilled to be able to meet again with friends and family safely now that most people in our community have received the COVID-19 vaccine. It was so fitting that one of the first community forums we were able to hold was the Lake Lure Memorial Day Service. We appreciate the over 100 Veterans and citizens who joined us for a glorious service that recognized the sacrifices of the men and women who have served this country so valiantly. The program honored Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and paid tribute to the Veterans, active duty military personnel, and their family members who have forfeited so much for our freedoms. We are truly fortunate to have so many retired Veterans in our community and it was wonderful that we were able to publically thank each of them and acknowledge their service to our country.
The next community event we held was our Lake Lure Boardwalk and Washburn Marina Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on June 11, 2021. We appreciated the great turnout for this event as well. The new boardwalk features a durable metal hand railing and walkway with non-slip tread which is built on a floating dock system. The boardwalk is connected to the new expanded marina which increased boat slips from 84 to 220 slips. This is a self-sustaining project which was also supported through a $100,000 grant from the Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority. We are pleased that the project could be completed without the use of tax payer dollars.
As we took the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, we have been busy preparing for the next phase of work to support our town infrastructure, including the Lake Lure Dam. Town Council recently made a decision to replace the existing dam to ensure it meets current day safety standards. There are several reasons for this decision, but first and foremost is that the replacement dam will provide the greatest length of service at virtually the same cost of restoring the existing dam. The replacement dam can be built approximately 100 yards downstream from the existing dam and the lake will not have to be drained as it is being built. We are seeking national and state support to cover the cost of the replacement dam, but the town is also reserving funds to support this project.
Town Council just passed the FY2021-2022 budget. This process allowed us to carefully look at all town expenses and to identify efficiencies that could be gained. Additionally, the new budget ensures the town reserves $1.6 million each year to fund the design and construction costs associated with the replacement dam. We have received two Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants totaling $200,000 to fund an assessment of the dam and the design of a reservoir drain (sewer access valve). We have applied for a third grant to support the conceptual design of the replacement dam and will continue to apply for future grants to support this work. Additionally, we have submitted an appropriation request to the national Transportation and Infrastructure Committeethrough Senator Madison Cawthorn to seek support at the Federal and State level. These grants and applications all require matching funds so the Town’s new Dam Reserve Fund will allow the town to immediately accept any outside funds to support the project.
As promised, we have communicated the lake drawdown schedule as early in the year as possible so everyone can make their plans accordingly. This year, the plan is to begin lowering the lake on 11/1/21. The lake will be lowered about one foot per day until we reach twelve feet below full pond to accomplish the work that needs to be done. We will work as strategically and efficiently as possible so that we can accomplish as much as we can during the five months that the lake will be down. We hope to begin refilling the lake on 3/31/22 and the following projects will be completed during this time:
- Dredging will be completed throughout the drawdown period to remove silt. This effort is being funded through an $850,000 dredging budget which includes the $637,500 NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resource grant. (Parks, Recreation and Lake Department)
- Construction to allow deep water access for construction during the lake drawdown. (Parks, Recreation and Lake Department)
- Manhole rehabilitation. (LaBella Associates/Sewer System Engineering Consultants)
- Pre-bid meeting for contractors interested in bidding. (LaBella Associates)
- Conducting a bid opening (LaBella Associates)
- Beginning construction for boathouse modifications. (Contractors)
- Conducting lake structure inspections. (Community Development)
- Installing two manholes in Morse Park. (Public Works)
- Completing a penstock inspection (Dam/Hydroelectric Department)
We recently hosted two Round Table meetings to discuss these projects with citizens so everyone would have opportunities to ask questions and have a discussion about all of these important initiatives. Although our Town Council meetings allow the community to stay up-to-date on projects such as these, the formal structure of these meetings does not allow for dialogue. We are offering the Round Table meetings so there can be a lengthier conversation and an exchange of information. We will be offering additional meetings such as this on a regular bases to ensure you are informed about our progress and have input into future plans. Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to work together to preserve Lake Lure for future generations.