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FEMA estimate on flood damage at Granite Lake Park surprises town officials

GRANITE QUARRY — For town officials, flood damage estimates for Granite Lake Park qualify as sticker shock.

Mayor Bill Feather told the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen on Monday night that the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported back with a repair figure at least three times higher than what the board thought a fix would cost.

The FEMA estimate to return the park to the condition it was before the flooding and make improvements to prevent the same thing from happening again was $750,000, Feather said.

“Whenever it came back,” Feather said of the FEMA estimate, “I think staff was extremely shocked.”

An earlier estimate by the town put repair costs in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $200,000.

Feather said the FEMA figure would include a 4-foot-high retaining wall along Crane Creek on the northern end and a block retaining wall in the lake itself.

Flooding caused by Tropical Storm Florence last September led to significant bank erosion next to the lake. FEMA inspectors took a look at flood-related damage in Granite Quarry in early February.

Feather said the next step would be for FEMA to get back with the town on what part of the damage assessment it would pay and what the town would be responsible for.

The tough part for Granite Quarry is it would have to seek bids and pay for all the costs up front before any reimbursement from FEMA.

“It’s going to be interesting to see where it falls out,” Feather said.

In another matter Monday night, Nathan Turner described his Eagle Scout project, which led to the construction of seven wooden benches to be divided among Granite Lake Park, Granite Civic Park and the town-owned American Legion building.

Three benches will go along the Granite Lake trail, two at the Civic Park playground and two at the Legion building.

On some of his runs, Turner told the board, he noticed people playing basketball at Civic Park needed a place to sit. If they tried resting on the ground, they faced the possibility of sitting on anthills, Turner said.

About seven or eight Scouts helped Turner on the Eagle project. Each bench cost about $75 in materials, counting lumber and deck screws.

“Overall, I learned a lot from it,” said Turner, who confessed to the aldermen he is not much of a carpenter.

“I’m more of a keyboard guy,” he said.

The project took Turner and his assistants a good six hours to build the seven benches, he said.

Turner noted that the benches are movable and could be placed where needed in the parks. But Alderman Kim Cress warned he probably should figure out a way to anchor them, so they can’t be moved.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers agreed.

“That’s a nice bench,” LaFevers said, looking at the one on display in the board room. “We don’t want them to get gone.”

Feather thanked Turner on behalf of the town.

LaFevers brought up another community effort underway with the help of the Granite Quarry Civitan Club, F&M Bank, East Rowan High School and possibly East Rowan High alumni.

Those forces are joining together for a major renovation of the courtyard at the high school. The renovation is made more difficult because the school encloses the interior courtyard, allowing no vehicle access.

“It’s going to be a complicated job, getting vegetation in and out of that courtyard, because it’s enclosed,” LaFevers said.

The renovation will cost upward of $100,000. The fundraising effort is asking each alumni class of East Rowan High to consider donating up to $2,500 toward the project.

Money for a renovation is not in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools budget. The East Rowan High Booster Club recently had to pay for an expensive sound system, LaFevers said.

F&M Bank will be setting up a fund for the courtyard renovations, a project that could be accomplished this summer.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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