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Deal Lets New Lake Norman Beach Open For Memorial Day

Updated Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The first public beach on the Mecklenburg County side of Lake Norman is on schedule to open this weekend, just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.  That's after state and county officials reached a compromise to use local police for temporary traffic control near the park.

There's still no traffic light at a key intersection near Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius, where the beach will open. But Mecklenburg County parks officials worked out a deal with NCDOT, says county parks director Jim Garges.

"They're still working on the light installation but we've got approval to open the beach as long as the intersection is manned by Cornelius police, which it will be. So we're good to go," Garges said Monday.

Garges wasn't sure when a traffic light would be installed.  

For now, the county will pay off-duty Cornelius officers to direct traffic at the intersection, Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle said after a dedication on Tuesday. Police also will be stationed in the park. He didn't know how much the police might cost.

A county spokesman said the county estimates police would cost about $1,000 per day.  That would come from county funds set aside for police. 

The new half-acre public beach is the first in a Mecklenburg County park in about 40 years. The county banned swimming at county parks in the 1970s after a series of drownings.

Right now, the only other public beach on the lake is at Lake Norman State Park, about 20 miles north in Troutman.

A dedication ceremony was planned Tuesday morning at the park. Garges was scheduled to be there, along with County Commission Chair Trevor Fuller, Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis and District 1 County Commissioner Jim Puckett.

The beach opens on Saturday, May 28. Beach hours will be 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The county has hired 25 lifeguards for Ramsey Creek this summer, with 3 to 6 on duty at a time, a county spokesman said. 

The park is open sunrise to sunset, with an entrance charge of $5 for Mecklenburg residents, $7 for non-residents. You can walk or bike in for free.