12/22/06 — Alliance still waiting on OK for lake

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Alliance still waiting on OK for lake

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 22, 2006 1:57 PM

The six-acre lake officials hope will be the dominant feature in a revamped Stoney Creek Park dominated discussions among Stoney Creek Park Alliance board members Thursday.

The group came together at City Hall to talk about the future of the project and to address issues raised by a pair of concerned residents at a public forum last month -- primarily the lake and how it will affect flooding in the area.

"We understand the concerns they have, that we all have," board member Donnie Barnes said. "If at any point the (Army Corps of Engineers) says, 'You're crazy to put it in,' we'll take a step back. But that hasn't happened yet."

City Manager Joe Huffman said while clearly there are concerns about the potential for additional flooding caused by the lake, they are unfounded to date.

"We have gotten some informal advice that things are looking pretty good," he said.

But that does not mean the lake is a done deal and that more information isn't needed before taking on the project, Recreation and Parks director Neil Bartlett added.

"Bottom line, we should be getting permit approval for the park -- more particularly the lake -- sometime shortly after the New Year," he said. "The city is not going to be doing anything without the approval of all those regulatory agencies involved."

Those agencies include the Department of Water Quality, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

If and when permits for both the park and lake are approved, officials will then seek a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant for design and construction. Bartlett said he is seeking $500,000 from the fund, a sum that will need to be matched by the city.

And he is cautiously optimistic that he will have the permits in-hand by the end January -- before the application deadline for grant consideration.

"We have a strong application even if we didn't have the permits at that point," he said.

Huffman said he doesn't foresee any major problems and that he feels confident Goldsboro City Council members will match the $500,000.

"As far a city projects go, the affordability piece, I think this is a slam dunk," he said.

The alliance is scheduled to meet again in January. Chairman Dr. Peter Roethling said at that point, all questions about the lake should be answered.

And while it does not appear that there will be any problems with the plan, if the experts decide their preliminary advice about the lake was wrong and that it might in fact increase flooding, it will be back to the drawing board -- but that's unlikely, he said.

"If it looks like it's not going to work, we'll have to take the park in a different direction," Roethling said. "I don't think that's going to happen."