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Cornelius News

Cornelius: Beachin it

May 29. UPDATE SUNDAY. The Ramsey Creek Park public beach officially opened at 10:30 Saturday morning, and despite a gloomy start to the second day of the three-day weekend, it opened with a steady stream of beachgoers.

“We will temporarily  shut down for thunder and lightning but rain will not keep us away,” park official Genni Reel said.

Saturday the beach was full by about 11:15 am. There were entire sections of sidewalk on Nantz closed by construction,  putting at least one baby stroller out on the narrow roadway. Nantz Road neighbors, including town commissioner Mike Miltich, said there were a few turnarounds on Nantz, a road that comes to an end about a mile after the the park entrance.

Mecklenburg Park Director Jim Garges toook note. “All plans worked great yesterday and we’ll make any adjustments as we move along. We always listen to concerns from residents and users,” Garges said.

There were two lifeguards manning the lifeguard stands donated by the North Mecklenburg Rotary Club.

“Who needs Myrtle Beach when you got a beach at home,” said beachgoer Alisha Samuel, who lives in Charlotte.

The half-acre sandy beach, at the tip of Ramsey Creek Park, has outdoor showers and renovated bathrooms as well as parking for about 125 cars. Beach parking was full by 11:15 am.

Some beachgoers were beginning to park at commercial businesses on West Catawba, about .75 miles from the water’s edge.

The Ramsey Beach swimming area itself is outlined by wooden pilings and yellow line strung in between the pilings which show the depth of the water.

It showed five feet in the deepest area along the perimeter of the swimming area, while the lake is at a full recreation level. Lake levels dropped by four feet last year during the late summer, which means there will likely be only a foot of water in the swimming area during a drought. The flip side, of course, is that the beach will be considerably larger for sunbathing.

Garges said there are no plans to pick the pilings up, and place them farther out in the lake if there is a summer drought and Duke Energy draws down the lake.

One of the issues for the Nantz Road neighborhood is logistics, including the challenging intersection at Nantz and West Catawba. A promised signal is not yet installed, but work is underway to re-align the intersection. Police were out in force in the park and out at the intersection of Nantz and West Catawaba.

As for the process of installing a traffic light, Garges said there’s “no firm date, but grinding along.”

Police Chief Bence Hoyle said officers will be on duty at the intersection on weekends until the end of the school year. A more permanent plan will be finalized based on what happens.

Still, not everyone is happy. For example, how will beachgoers know when the parking lot is full without driving down Nantz Road and having to turn around? There are brown road signs that say whether beach parking is full posted on both sides of Catawaba, but some motorists either don’t see them or turn onto Nantz any way.

Town Commissioner Mike Miltich said, “incredulously, it is to be a manual sign, meaning some employee will have to go to the sign—drive, foot, bike?—to change it every time the park fills, and then when someone leaves.” He said there needs to be better signage at the park entrance because “we constantly have cars with boats and dogs miss the entrance, and then have to turn around in the neighborhood.”