by Carol Pritchett
Mayor, Town of Lake Lure
It has been a fabulous fall in Lake Lure and we are now looking forward to lighting up Lake Lure for the holidays. As we look forward to gatherings and celebrations with family and dear friends, using precautions to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 in our community remains a priority. We have shifted Town Council and Board meetings back to a virtual platform out of an abundance of caution. I continue to encourage anyone who is not already vaccinated to consider taking the vaccine to protect yourself, your family and our neighbors. We are fortunate to have the vaccine and booster shots locally available at no cost.
At this time, a top priority for Town Council is the search for a new Town Manager as the current manager will be retiring 12/1/21. We are recruiting for this position through S. Renee Narloch & Associates, a Professional Executive Recruitment firm. Town Council is committed to finding the best candidate to serve in this important role. Finding the right person to serve in this capacity is critical given the complexity of Lake Lure’s management agenda and infrastructure demands.
One of the most significant undertakings the Town has taken since our inception, is the rehabilitation of the dam. We continue to work closely with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ) Dam Safety Office (DSO) and our engineers (Schnabel Engineering), to move forward with this effort. Schnabel Engineering has just completed the design of our reservoir drain (also known as the sewer access valve). This is an emergency preparedness requirement that will allow the lake to be lowered to 20 feet, if needed. We have been advised by the NC DEQ DSO that we will receive additional funding from FEMA to help fund the conceptual design of the replacement dam, as well as funding to support a portion of the cost for the field investigation for this project. The amounts of this funding are uncertain at this time. However, the Town began reserving $1.6 million in the FY2021-2022 budget (and each year moving forward) to begin funding the design and construction costs associated with this project over the coming years.
Restoration of our sewer system also remains a key initiative. We were pleased that the engineering report associated with this complex project is moving forward. This will enable us to access a $12 million low interest loan through NC DEQ’s Division of Water. The Town and our sewer system engineers (Labella Associates) are working hand-in-hand with this agency. We are also applying for grants to support the various phases of this work.
As you are aware, we begin lowering the lake this year on 11/1/21. We will work as strategically and efficiently as possible so that we can accomplish as much as we can while the lake is lowered. One such project is the much needed dredging that is required to maintain the lake. Town Council recently approved the FY2021-2022 Dredging Plan and we are fortunate to have grant funding through NC DEQ to help facilitate our goals in this area.
In addition to dredging, during this year’s lake drawdown we plan to construct a deep water access ramp. This ramp will be used for dredging as well as upcoming projects related to the dam and the sewer system. We will be rehabilitating the manholes in the lake to reduce lake water infiltration and installing two manholes in Morse Park to enable access to and inspection of the existing system. We will be inspecting boat houses included in the first phase of the sewer system rehabilitation and completing the hydroelectric plant penstock warranty inspection. This year’s lake drawdown will also provide a unique opportunity for a pre-bid meeting with contractors interested in working on the project. For those of you in the community who have contractors working on projects below the normal full pond level, work must be completed by 1/31/22. We have consolidated the projects to be completed during the drawdown and plan to begin refilling the lake in February 2022, reaching full pond by the end of the month.
As the critical work to preserve Lake Lure continues, we are also looking forward to taking time out to recognize and celebrate Veterans. We are partnering with Rumbling Bald again this year and will be holding a Veterans Day Program, November 11, at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure. We plan to hold the ceremony at the beachside Gazebo. Following the service, Veterans and their wives will enjoy a complimentary breakfast on the Terrace. Those of us who are not Veterans may also enjoy breakfast for a nominal fee.
Following Veterans Day we will all be gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving. Shortly thereafter the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge will be “Lighting Up the Gorge in Lake Lure” on the Friday after Thanksgiving, 11/26/21. Then, the Town of Lake Lure is partnering with the Friends of the Flowering Bridge and Lake Lure Classical Academy to host, “Lighting Up Lake Lure” on Wednesday evening, 12/1/21. Please stay tuned for details and upcoming meetings, events and news on the Town website at www.townoflakelure.com
Thank you for all you do to help light up Lake Lure with your presence and support.