TROUTMAN â€“ Lake Norman State Park might be the only place on Lake Norman with a public swimming area, and Lincolnton resident Annette Moore and her family were taking full advantage of it; although early in the season, it was the second time the Moores were back.
â€œItâ€™s awesome here,â€ Moore said.
Tucked away in a corner of Troutman in neighboring Iredell County, Lake Norman State Park has undergone several renovations, improvements and additions, including a new swim beach complex that includes a 125-yard sand beach; bathhouse; toilet building; handicapped-accessible fishing pier; shelters and 75 individual sites for picnic grounds.
A concession building will open May 28. The site also has a 300-space parking area.
The $3.1 million two-year project was funded through the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. The project broke ground October 2002.
â€œIt has really made a difference so far,â€ said Casey Rhinehart, park superintendent. â€œThe visitation is growing because of all the development in Mooresville, Statesville and Charlotte.â€
The new beach swim complex opened April 29.
The state park also recently added mountain bike trails totaling seven miles two years ago. Another five miles on the trail is expected to be open by next winter.
The parkâ€™s old swim beach area, which was located on a small 33-acre impoundment adjoining Lake Norman may soon be a site for a visitors center.
The center will be used as a park office, meeting room and an exhibit hall. Negotiations are underway for funding.
Currently, canoe and paddle boat rentals are still being done from the old beach area location. Rhinehart is hoping to switch the boat rentals to the new swim beach area in the near future.
â€œWe would like to petition the Lake Norman Marine Commission to allow us to make a no-wake speed in order for us to possibly move our boats to the new swimming area,â€ Rhinehart said.
No date is set for when Rhinehart will present this to the commission.
The new swim beach complex is located in the southwestern part of the 1,611-acre park. There is no charge for swimming, nor are there any parking or admission fees at the park. Currently there are no lifeguards at the swim beach complex.
Rhinehart said if staff is hired to manage the swim complex, there may be a fee to swim.
Hours for the swim beach complex in May are 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the park closes. Starting June through August, swimming hours will be extended until 8:30 p.m. Alcohol and pets arenâ€™t permitted in the swimming area.
â€œItâ€™s a nice facility,â€ Rhinehart said. â€œEveryone is really impressed. We have had a lot of positive comments.â€
And just a wee touch of longing.
â€œI wish Lincoln County would do something like this on the lake,â€ said Moore.
Lake Norman State Park was created in 1962 by a donation of land from Power Co. and had 445,272 visitors in 2004.
by Amy Wadsworth