By Joy Warren
The Town of White Lake Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution Tuesday evening to accept a State Reserve Project Loan in the amount of $2,998,667 for Phase II of the Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project. The estimated date for beginning construction on the project is January 2022.
Dr. Diane Lauritsen provided a written update for the “Lake” Water Management Project. Included in the report were her recommendations for focus in the upcoming months … “the objective will be the development of a Memorandum of Understanding based on a White Lake Management Plan for the entities involved. In addition, a draft Stormwater Management ordinance should become priority, with a goal of adopting an ordinance as soon as possible. Also sites should be identified for land acquisition/stormwater retention should be done so that grant funding can be applied for.” Steve Bunn, Lake Water Stewardship Officer, provided a written report indicating he is still monitoring several spring sites to measure flows as the winter rains refill the water table to see if there is a correlation between spring flows and rainfall. The current lake level is at 64 feet. With the forecast for below average rainfall over the winter into spring, it is likely that the lake levels next year will be noticeably lower than what has been seen in the past two years.
During the open forum session of the meeting, Alan Pittman, a resident of the lake, shared with the Board suggestions to help identify “potential mitigation solutions for the existing eutrophic conditions present in the lake 1) Quantifying outflow from the sewer system into adjacent groundwater would provide better management information towards nutrient mitigation, 2) Quantify groundwater input from source aquifers to White Lake; 3) Encourage the establishment of Best Management Practices to reduce lake nutrient loading from stormwater runoff in the watershed; and 4) Establishment of a boat inspection/cleaning station at boat launch sites to reduce the introduction of aquatic weeds and/or algae into the lake from boats.” Town Administrator Sean Martin will follow-up with Mr. Pittman after going over the information he presented to the Board. Several Board members expressed their agreement with the need to be proactive and continue to seek solutions to make progress toward better lake water quality. Mr. Martin informed those in attendance that he is expecting to hold a hybrid (virtual and in-person) meeting with subject matter specialists as well as the public to discuss next steps in lake water quality.
Martin provided an update on the Economic Development Administration grant application for Phase II of the multi-use path project. The estimated project cost is $1,074,991 to extend the path an additional 2500 feet (asphalt and wooden boardwalk) parallel to Highway 701 from the end of Phase I at Turtle Cove to the White Lake Marina.
Martin also shared with the Board a released report from Visit North Carolina regarding 2020 tourism spending numbers for Bladen County. The Economic Impact of Travel report showed that Bladen County received $36.9 million in tourism dollars ($8.2 million from lodging; $12.7 from food; $4.4 million from recreation; $3.4 million from retail and $8.1 million from transportation). Mayor Goldston Womble indicated that this represents about $10 million less than the previous year.
In other administrative matters, the Board approved Tax Releases ($20.61) and Utility Releases ($7,762.44) for October.
Womble announced that The Grand Regal at White Lake hosted a benefit on September 11th for the Fire and Police Departments. Both departments received $6,000 each as a donation from The Grand Regal.
In observance of Veteran’s Day, November 11th, the Municipal Complex will be closed. Town offices will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 25th and Friday, November 26th. The Public Works on-call person will be available in case of water/sewer emergencies.