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Cornelius News

2016: A busy year ahead


By Dave Yochum. If you aren’t used to change by now, you haven’t lived in Cornelius very long. In a town that suddenly—in a geological sense—got an entire lake 50 years ago, a lot will be happening in 2016.

One of the biggest and most important changes is that public swimming is coming to town, likely by Memorial Day. It’s a sea change for this part of Lake Norman, where virtually all the shoreline is in private hands.

Not so county-owned Ramsey Creek Park, which will get a beach manned by five or six lifeguards from dawn to dusk during the swimming season. There are no similar plans for Jetton Park, which is also county-owned.

Jim Garges, director of Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, says based on parking for 127 cars, the beach might accommodate around 500 swimmers.

It will be the county’s only beach in Mecklenburg.  Bill Russell, CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber, said “this is huge.”

“For decades, our greatest liquid asset – Lake Norman – has been off limits to those who simply could not afford access. If you didn’t own a boat, own property on the water, or know someone who does, you were denied swimming at the Lake in Mecklenburg County,” Russell said.

While the adventuresome could travel to the beach at Lake Norman State Park in Troutman, that wasn’t the case for tourists in Cornelius.

“This will have a significant impact on our hospitality businesses,” Russell said.

In fact, the chamber will host a public information session next year regarding the logistics of the beach in terms of traffic and parking.

Kiwanis Splash Park

If it seems like Cornelius is fully immersed in swimming, don’t forget the new splash feature in Smithville Park. The Lake Norman Kiwanis Club is organizing the $150,000 fund-raising drive that is behind the park, which will be similar to the one in the center of Birkdale Village. It, too, is supposed to be done in time for warm weather in 2016. The club, which meets each Thursday for lunch at Brooklyn South, undertook this project in honor of Kiwanis’ 100th anniversary.

Elder boom

In a broader sense, about 10,000 baby boomers across the country will hit retirement age each day of 2016. Naturally, some of them will be moving to Cornelius.

The Courtyards at Lake Norman gets under way in earnest this spring, with 67 homes planned for Nantz Road near West Catawba. Designed for ages 55 “or better,” the maintenance-free, ranch-style homes start around $315,000.

Also this spring, 22 houses with a starting price in the mid-$500,000s, get under way on the vacant 5.6 acre parcel behind the Jetton Cove Harris Teeter.

The county, meanwhile, is expected to grow 17 percent to more than 1.1 million residents by 2019.

On the road again

And that means transportation. Construction begins in the spring for the Charlotte Area Transportation System Park and Ride on vacant land near One Norman Boulevard and where Sefton Park Road and Jetton Road Extension meet.

The site will accommodate approximately 350 to 400 vehicles, plus bicycle racks.

The town is also going to town on things transportation in 2016.

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Click to enlarge

The intersection at Bailey Road and Hwy. 115 will be improved, with construction expected to start in the summer. There will be new right- and left-turn lanes, so that every approach except Bailey coming from the schools will have a left-turn lane. The total cost, with purchase of rights of way, is around $900,000

The town also plans road extension to improve traffic flow. The Gem Street and Hickory Street extension projects are worth around $2.3 million. Gem Street will be extended to Oak Street, while Hickory Street will go to Lovers Lawn Terrace. Left-turn lanes will be added on N.C. 115 with a traffic signal at the Hickory Street intersection. Construction begins summer of 2016.

A new “Smithville Connection” will help residents of Smithville head west. Preliminary design work is under way with a new $1.7 million road planned toward the end of 2016.  Meetings are planned with the Smithville Community Coalition early in 2016.

Greenways and a park


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There are concrete plans for pedestrians and cyclists in 2016, too. Look for new sidewalks along Hwy. 73 to Blythe Landing, as well as a new greenway in Antiquity from Zion Street under the covered bridge to the Davidson greenway on South Street. There will be a 300-foot boardwalk as part of the $1 million greenway, with $721,000 coming from NCDOT.

Other greenways include South Bailey and Caldwell Station Creek.

The PARC Department will break ground in February on the roughly $1.3 million

Cornelius Elementary School Park, which will include four baseball fields, two multi purpose fields and quarter-mile track. It will open by the first day of school in August of 2016.