Certainly, a monumental, if not historic joint meeting of Kerr Lake Park Watch and NC State Park officials was held last week at Satterwhite Point Park on Kerr Lake.  The fairly new Superintendent of the seven NC State Recreation Areas, Bill Stanley, his new second in command, Superintendent Keith Nealson, and from Raleigh, the newly named Director of the Division of NC State Parks and Recreation, Brian Strong, with Chief of Operations, Kathy Capps.

A number of general members of Kerr Lake Park Watch (KLPW) and Steering Committee members attended.  KLPW earlier developed a six-page list of concerns, problems and issues, many going back several decades.

Another first, as NC House Representative Frank Sossamon attended the meeting, as the first local legislator for a long while, showing a strong interest in, and presence at, the recreation areas.

Of course, there was not any way of discussing every line item on the “needs” list comprised of input from the general public users and visitors of the parks, heavy generational campers, and members of KLPW, so the group tried to address the major points, but this meeting gave the public the opportunity to express their concerns in total.

To KLPW, a major hurdle was jumped when a strong consensus was formed that everyone, from local parks officials, the state parks hub in Raleigh, and KLPW need to do a better job of communications.  Several attendees mentioned that better and more aligned communications could have avoided complaints, adverse public reaction and confusion over recent state park rule changes and enforcement.

KLPW offered to assist the recreation area system in using its 950+ membership, 5,000+ social media followers and its good media relations to help publicize all information, events and news pertaining to the seven state recreation areas on Kerr Lake.

Though it was explained that the reservation system, Reserve America (Aspira) actually was behind the move to change the reservation time period from 11 months to 6 months, parks officials were told that with any changes, the public needs more notice when such changes take place.  It was also noted and is to be reviewed in the future, that NC State Parks has no access to Reserve America’s data base, specifically email addresses the system could use to contact and inform recreation area campers and users.

The biggest issues for KLPW and public members in attendance are campsite improvements, upgrades and new sites to accommodate record camping attendance.  Director Strong indicated that, though grinding through the slow state government process, there are updates coming from monies from the Connect NC Bond passed six or seven years ago.  That’s about $3.5 million for Kerr Lake.

An eagle in a Satterwhite Point tree seems to be a sign for a new and renewed      spirit of cooperation for meeting attendees as they enter the Glass House

Strong also said that existing water and sewer infrastructure will be improved with another $12 million dollars, with projects scheduled for completion in 2026.

Bill Stanley and Keith Nealson both spoke to the group and especially to Representative Sossamon that the parks need two more rangers immediately, and down the road, more people in general if they are to have the entrance stations manned more.  Complaints to KLPW of no one in the stations, and no camp hosts on site have risen in the last few years.  Stanley said that complaint and others need addressing and that he and Nealson inherited many issues, but that they are on everyone’s list to address.

KLPW attendees were surprised, if not shocked, when it was announced that a Kerr Lake Advisory Committee to assist in representing the public and to help with community relations, has already been named and put into place.  Several months ago, KLPW, while working on setting up the joint meeting, first suggested getting such a committee in place and having it put into the state park rules.  The committee has already been appointed without any members of Kerr Lake Park Watch being named to that committee.  Several attendees voiced support for KLPW to at least have one person named to the advisory committee for the seven state recreation areas.

Everyone around the table was given a chance to express themselves about concerns already raised or others.  The biggest concerns stemmed from changes in the Camp Host program, this year’s enforcement of the 4 PM check-in rule, the changes from 11 month to 6 month advance reservations, a lack of communication all the way around, the need for 50 AMP and the improvement of actual camp sites, the improvement of roads, the increased use of alcohol in the parks, and the lack of sufficient law enforcement and general workers in the parks.

Most of these, said Brian Strong, the new state director, will be addressed, but it takes time.

Kerr Lake Park Watch will gather the names and contact information of those serving on the Kerr Lake Advisory Committee and provide them through our communication channels.

For now, we look to all the new people in place locally and statewide, for a renewed commitment to the parks we all love around the shores of Kerr Lake.

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Reservation Information

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