“As far as the lake, I am not sure we have it ‘back’ yet,” says Bryan Lake, one of eight Mirror Lake Homeowners Association members, “or when or if we ever will.”
You’ll find residents enjoying summer walks along Mirror Lake Drive, and you might see some doing some fishing along the bank.
The dam and spillway in VanStory Hills are anew.
“We are excited for this road to finally be open, allowing for ease of travel across the neighborhood, and know residents will be very excited as well,” Mayor Mitch Colvin was saying in a news release when construction of the roadway and dam was complete in July to restore damage from Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 8, 2016. “This new road and dam is much improved over what existed here previously and will be able to withstand most anything Mother Nature throws our way.”
Impoundment took place recently.
“When we were ready to close the valve, after some delay, then the (Mirror Lake) homeowners association wanted to cut the weeds a second time, “says Johnny Dawkins, the Fayetteville City Council representative from District 5. “We decided to hold off closing the valve for another couple of weeks to allow the additional weed cutting. The state allowed us to close the valve on this $5.5 million project, the rains came, and after 46 months we have a beautiful Mirror Lake again.”
Well, not so fast there, councilman.
“My official response is, ‘What lake?’” says Juan Brutsch, one of eight lake owners. “This is an eyesore.”
Silt and sediment accumulation have left the once picturesque lake more shallow, and vegetation protrudes.
“I am sure folks are glad to have the road re-opened, whether they live in VanStory Hills or not,” says Bryan Lake, another lake association member. “This is because the road gets a lot of traffic from not just inside of the neighborhood, but from outside of the neighborhood as well, particularly when schools are open. Having the road over the dam re-opened should also alleviate much of the traffic congestion that everyone has endured the last few years at the intersection of Morganton Road and Northview Drive on school mornings.”
And, he says, with Mirror Lake Drive now open since May 1, joggers, bicyclists and families have safe walkways.
“As far as the lake, I am not sure we have it ‘back’ yet, or when or if we ever will,” Lake says. “Hurricane Matthew deposited a significant layer of sediment in the lakebed, so what remains of the lake is much smaller and shallower than it was previously. I have only been living in my current home for seven years, but I am told by lifelong residents of VanStory that the lake was once approximately twice its current size, having been filled in somewhat from the southern and western sides. Now, with the new dam some 25 feet wider than the old one, the footprint of the lake has shrunk yet again.
“Not only did the new dam encroach into the former lakebed at the south end of the lake, but the sediment accumulation at the mouth of the lake in the north is actually 12 inches to 24 inches higher than the normal water levels and is even with the highest part of the spillway. As part of the city's storm water management system, the lake likely holds less than half of the runoff that it previously did.
“As a resident, that concerns me,” Lake says. “If I was responsible for the city's storm water management, that would concern me whether I lived here or not. The sediment came from when Morganton Road washed out, carrying sediment from that area into the bed of Mirror Lake, where it has remained these last nearly four years. The city took responsibility for cleaning out the creek between Morganton Road and the lake in the wake of Matthew but has thus far not been willing to assist in efforts to address the result of what occurred upstream. We'd hoped to have that work incorporated into the $5.5 million dam project, but that was not permitted. With the accumulation of sediment leaving us with a lake that is not more than two-feet deep in most places, my concern is that the lake will become an eyesore and a nuisance due to our inability to control the vegetation.”
Lake says that although the Mirror Lake Homeowners Association paid for vegetation to be cut on Aug. 2 before impoundment of the reservoir on Aug. 7, vegetation still is visible on the lake surface, and Lake fears it will only become worse over time.
“We could control the vegetation somewhat when the lakebed was dry, but it is a much more challenging and costly proposition with water present,” Lake says. “Had the city actually maintained the silt trap they installed at the mouth of the lake over a decade ago the way they were supposed to, perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess.”
Dawkins, the councilman who resides in the VanStory Hills subdivision, offers some consolation for the eight Mirror Lake Homeowners Association members, saying the protruding vegetation should “eventually die and float away.”
If not, those lake owners may find themselves paying upward of $50,000 to have the lake dredged to rid it of the vegetation.
Repairs to Mirror Lake Dam were paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the N.C. Department of Public Safety, according to the city, because the dam and road were city-owned prior to Hurricane Matthew.
The roadway is welcoming.
The dam and spillway impressive.
But Mirror Lake itself … hmmm.
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@CityView.com, email@example.com or 910-624-1961