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Cornelius News

Another beach meeting 6:30 pm Thursday at Town Hall

June 13. By Dave Yochum. The Ramsey Creek Beach is nice but the people planning the infrastructure probably might have started their planning careers with one-car funerals. Residents up and down Nantz Road say the traffic situation on weekends is a disaster; the Town of Cornelius is threatening to shut down the county-owned beach over safety issues.

There will be Ramsey Creek Beach community meeting Thursday starting at 6:30 pm at Cornelius Town Hall. Officials from Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the Town of Cornelius and the Cornelius Police Department will receive public feedback.

The infrastructure, ranging from gate operations to parking spaces, has been overwhelmed by demand. It all started when Mecklenburg County Parks organized a beach dedication ceremony and invited Charlotte media, including TV stations, to attend. They did not invite local media, although a reporter from Cornelius Today attended.

The TV coverage was abundant and effusive, while a Cornelius Today story was cautionary. The beach opened to massive crowds on Memorial Day weekend, overwhelming a narrow, two-lane residential neighborhood.

Some of the nearby homes are million-dollar waterfront abodes; owners said their property values fell overnight as beachgoers, stymied by full parking lots and no-parking signs, hiked three-quarters of a mile from the old Bank of Granite building past neighborhoods like Serenity Point.

Dangerous for pedestrians

Dangerous for pedestrians

The park, however, was years in the making. While the beach is a pristine stretch of white sand, there’s not even a complete sidewalk along Nantz Road. Cornelius Today’s photographer caught pictures of parents pushing strollers in harm’s way.

Meanwhile, a promised traffic light at Nantz and West Catawba is nowhere to be found, but new curbing has been installed and previously intact sidewalk removed, making the intersection worse than it was before.

Town Commissioners Dave Gilroy and Michael Miltich, who lives on Nantz Road, said the intersection is actually more difficult than it was before what appears to be an incomplete stab at a redesign. Both are also advocating a redo of beach fees, currently $3 per car, so that walk-ins pay, or perhaps each passenger in a car. Online prepayment is also being discussed, but it’s clear the infrastructure is not there.

Gilroy suggested raising prices to  $7 per car on weekends and holidays, and $5 during the week;  $3 per individual walk-ins, $2 during the week; and Jetton Park, free at all times, “and publicized as such in order to rebalance the load.”

Commissioner Jim Duke has suggested opening the beach at Jetton Park to lessen the demand on Ramsey Creek.

Jim Garges, director of Mecklenburg Parks, said, “We have no plans to open Jetton as a beach. Duke Power has 12 additional sites planned, but these will take time. We’re continuing to make changes in the traffic and beach operation plans to accommodate the visitors and help with neighborhood concerns.”

The beach made Gilroy burn: “Meck County’s PR machine is running and Jim Garges is listening and showing some empathy for neighborhood residents, but the next step must be major and immediate action. The numbers of beachgoers are overwhelming and the project is now having an extraordinary adverse impact on the quality of life of Cornelius citizens living near Ramsey Creek park. Public safety is at risk in multiple ways as well, despite the great efforts of our police officers. The County is suggesting a lot of window-dressing ideas such as signage and better educating citizens, but what is needed asap is fundamental pricing changes to directly address demand.