Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Access Denied

 Big DayOnce a year, a group of kids get to experience what many children experience summer round – access to Lake Norman.  In June, Big Brothers and Big Sisters participate in the Big Day at the Lake that Business Today publisher Dave Yochum has poured his heart into.  The project typically pairs 120 to 150 kids with a Big Brother or Sister for the day.  Local lake businesses and community citizens have embraced this project providing a day of fun, food, and fellowship on the waters of Lake Norman.  Simply put, it is a great event!

The shame is for the other 364 days of the year, the region’s greatest recreational asset is largely off limits to a huge segment of our population.  Not since the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s has one demographic of the population been denied the privileges afforded others.  Lake Norman, which covers more than 32,500 acres with 520 miles of shoreline, has only one public swimming area and NONE on the Mecklenburg County shoreline of the lake.  Certainly people who have worked hard and earned their respective lakefront property deserve the fruits of their labor.  Thousands more have boats and personal watercraft that give them access to our greatest liquid asset – Lake Norman.  However, if you do not know someone with lakefront property or someone who has a boat or watercraft, you are one of the growing majority denied access to North Carolina’s largest man-made lake.

Residents of North Mecklenburg and South Iredell and our visitors have one alternative – Lake Norman State Park located at exit 42 in Troutman.  The park is a nice amenity with hiking trails, picnic shelters, and a public swimming area.  But the point is that taxpaying residents of our region, the visiting public, and perhaps most importantly – our children – should not have to travel to Troutman to access the waters of Lake Norman.  The real shame is Jetton Park in Cornelius, with its beachfront, was originally designed for public access but the threat of liability has led Mecklenburg County to enforce a strict “no public swimming” policy for its parks.jetton_park

There is a great injustice to thousands of families and residents who are denied the privileges of swimming at Lake Norman because of one simple demographic – household income.   The issue of public access at Lake Norman is not a racial issue but it is one of fairness and we should do something about it.   One thing is for certain – nothing will change until the cry for change is heard so often and so loud that it cannot be ignored.  As the civil rights leaders of a generation ago would admit – no great struggle is easily won.  However, the struggle for fairness will always win the day if you believe and work hard enough for the outcome.

March 13, 2009 - Posted by | Lake Access | , , , ,

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