Russell’s Ramblings

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

Access Granted – Working Together Works!

A few summers ago, I wrote an editorial called “Access Denied” which our Charlotte area media picked up.  In the editorial, I wrote about the “then-ban” on public access swimming in our Mecklenburg County Parks.  I pointed out that if you are not fortunate enough to own lakefront property or a personal watercraft or know someone who does – you have no access to our beautiful lake.  While there are some businesses which rent watercraft, for many in Mecklenburg County who may not have the financial resources to do so, they are left “high and dry.”

I have written in the past and shared with countless others in talks to business and civic groups, elected leadership, and the media that many of our county residents simply do not have the resources that many of us take for granted.  Individuals and families who do have lakefront homes and watercraft should enjoy what they have worked hard to attain.  However, access to the lake should be made available to everyone.

Anyone who has ever participated in “Big Day at the Lake”, a program for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Charlotte, can attest first hand on how a day at the lake affects a child’s life.  I have been so fortunate to see kids who have never been on a jet ski, pulled behind a boat on a raft, or in some cases just been swimming in a lake, enjoy our great lake for the first time.

Last evening, at the North Mecklenburg Candidate Forum, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Karen Bentley announced that Parks and Recreation Director Jim Garges had informed her that the county will allocate $430,000 in the FY14 Capital Projects list for Ramsey Creek Beach.  Jim stated with these funds, Mecklenburg County will be able to plan, apply for a permit, construct drawings, and hopefully have enough funds to build the beach.

While the county is dependent on permitting, and funding will always take top consideration on capital improvement projects, this is great news for our lake communities and the residents of Mecklenburg County.  It also will have a profound impact on travel and tourism and the families and children who visit us in the future.

Our region has been recognized as both a great place to live as well as a great place to do business, evidenced lately by the opening of ABB in Huntersville and the recent MSC Industrial Direct Co. announcement relocating jobs to Davidson. Sports enthusiasts recognize the lake and our recreational facilities are among the country’s best.

The announcement last night by Commissioner Bentley was welcome news.  In my bucket list of things to do, we cannot quite strike Public Swimming at the lake off the list yet.  However, we are one step closer to hearing the laughter of children and the splashing on our shores from children and families of all walks of life – not just the privileged few.

I’ve always thought our greatest liquid asset shouldn’t be off limits to the public.  Lake Norman is not just a body of water with 520 miles of shoreline – it is a lifestyle everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

Now let’s go build us a conference center at the lake and prove to world, we’re serious about business.  A destination for some, a wonderful experience to remember for others…and to those of us who live here – a great place we call home.

October 5, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Lake Access | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment