West Bank Park on Buford Dam Road has been closed for nearly a year due to heavy damage from a historic level of flooding, but officials said a reopening date is in sight.
Nick Baggett, a natural resources manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the park was due to reopen before the start of rec season, which is typically around Memorial Day.
“They’ve been repairing picnic tables. There was a lot of damage due to high water to the picnic site, so they went back in and refurbished those and pulled out a lot of the crosstie-type walls and replaced those with concrete walls,” Baggett said. “So, those should be longer-lasting and able to fair a lot better with high water than the wooden wall.”
The park originally closed in February 2019 when Lake Lanier’s level reached 1,076.1 feet above sea level, more than 5 feet above full summer pool level of 1,071 feet. The lake level was the highest in more than 40 years and third-highest ever.
“We were finally able to get the funding that we needed. This is funding above our typical budget, so the work is going forward now,” Baggett said.
Baggett said crews had been working on the park for about four months. Sand at the manmade beach would also be replaced before the park opens.
Lake Lanier is the most heavily-used Corps property, Baggett said, and West Bank is one of the most popular parks on the lake, meaning regular visitors have had to go to other areas.
“West Bank is one of our most-visited parks on the lake, and it has, during the regular recreation season last summer, impacted us, and we had higher visitation at some of the other parks, like Buford Dam Park, those parks at the southern end of the lake,” Baggett said.
Baggett said the corps’ budget is typically already tight and unexpected events like the high lake level can create issues getting the project done.
“We want to get it back running up as soon as possible, but we also have very tight budgets and we are really frugal with our expenditures and trying to get things done, but again, this was an unexpected expense, and being an unexpected expense with the high water that lasted so long, we’ve had to adjust and get the funds and restore it as fast as possible,” he said. “It did take a while, but we’re well on our way to getting it even in better shape than it was.”