It was a full house at the Cornelius Town Hall Community Room on Wednesday, January 23, 2019, at 6:35pm. Representatives from Duke Energy’s Public Safety & Recreation Services team and from the Cornelius Town Board and PARC Commission were on hand to describe to Cornelius residents the beginnings of a plan to create public access for kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards (non-motorized watercraft) on Lake Cornelius.
“The purpose of the workshop tonight is to determine what is the level of support from the community.”—Troy Fitzsimmons, PARC Director
If the level of support for an informal public access area on Lake Cornelius from Cornelius residents is high, then the town board will direct Troy Fitzsimmons, director of the PARC Commission, to work with Duke Energy’s team to determine potential sites.
Duke Energy’s team provided displays and details for what the vision could be if the town agrees to move forward. The site would be small, probably with a parking area for 10-15 cars, with access to the lake via a gravel pathway. People wishing to canoe, kayak, or paddle board would have to carry their watercrafts from the parking lot to the lake. There would not be any access to drive a vehicle or boat up to the lake.
Victoria Bay and Cornelius Street residents were at the meeting because they had heard rumors the access site would be located near them.
“I want to be very clear about it, we have no pre-conceived notions as to location.”—John Crutchfield, Director of Public Safety & Recreation Strategy at Duke Energy
Mr. Crutchfield continued to say that the proposed area would be geared for day-use activities. The site would be actively managed after it was built.
“I am absolutely against the project. For a small lake like Lake Cornelius, the land close to the lake has always been classified as a nature preserve. It’s a great concept, but to put it on such a small lake is irresponsible.”—Judy Nemeth, Cornelius resident living on the lake
Another Cornelius Street resident who did not wish to be named complained, “Not on my street!” A few positive comments were found on the comments board: “I’m in favor of lake access for safe kayaking,” “Fantastic idea. Find the best location and do it!” and “Yes–I need a place to launch paddle boards.” However, the majority of comments on the board from residents were against the project.
PARC Commissioner Andrew Heywood, who is in favor of the project, explained, “The access will be the same as the access the YMCA has, only you don’t have to be a member [to use it].”