ROCKINGHAM — Last summer, county commissioners voted to approve a special tax assessment on waterfront land surrounding Ledbetter Lake to pay for repairs to the dam, bringing water back to the barren field of cracked mud and small puddles once used for recreation.
Owners of waterfront property now pay an annual assessment of $5.68 for each foot of shoreline. For most, this equates to roughly $500 to $800 extra per year.
The project was originally set to be completed within 10 months — but one year later, the dam is still not fully repaired and only a fraction of the water has returned to the lake.
Gary Jordan, general superintendent for geotechnical contracting firm URETEK Mid-Atlantic, said the weather has stymied his company’s work on the dam.
“Right now, we are under a delay because of the rain we’ve been having,” Jordan said. “The contractor we work for has not been able to set up a crane at the foot of the dam. Once they do that, it should only take us about two weeks to finish our part.”
With Hurricane Matthew churning in the Atlantic, prospects for next week’s progress are speculative.
“Last time I heard anything on it, it was still a tropical (storm),” Jordan said. “I’m hoping it goes on out to sea.”
URETEK’s project, he said, is to ensure the dam is sturdy and capable of withstanding rapid rises in lake water levels.
“What we’re doing is putting in anchors,” he explained. “After they did the analysis of the dam, the way it’s sitting, is if you get that great hundred-year flood, the anchors will hold it down to where it won’t move. Our portion is to keep it in place, so if it floods a massive flood, the people down from it won’t suffer catastrophic damage.”
Once URETEK’s phase of the project is completed, Hall Contracting will finish the work, Jordan said.
When county officials approved the project last year, its cost was estimated to be around $2.7 million. Of that, $1.8 million would pay for the labor and the remainder would cover legal fees and interest.
County Manager Rick Sago said at the time that the price tag could change, depending on the actual costs.
The project includes repairs to the Ledbetter Lake Dam and ancillary structures, features and amenities associated with the dam. It also covers landscaping in the dam’s vicinity and construction and improvement of any roads or access areas leading to or from the dam.
The original amount also includes costs associated with developing and financing public improvements — including the costs of establishing, administering and operating the special assessment district.
Tim Dixon, project manager with Hall Contracting, was unavailable to discuss his firm’s estimated timeline on completing its part of the project Thursday.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.