Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 23, 2013

Lake economy hopes to buoy

Lee’s Ford Marina owner says lowered Lake Cumberland has resulted in ‘economic disaster’ for boating industry

Somerset —  

“Raising the level of the lake is terrific news! It’s great for the local economy! It’s great for the region! It’s great for the state and nation! It’s the beginning of economic recovery!”
J.D. Hamilton, owner of Lee’s Ford Marina Resort, was reacting to an announcement last week that rehabilitation of leaky Wolf Creek Dam is being completed almost a year ahead of schedule and there is “high probability” the water level will be raised 20 feet for the upcoming tourism season.
A 20-foot rise this summer will raise the lake to between 700 and 705 feet above sea level. Another 20-foot rise in Summer 2014 will bring the lake to pool stage, or tree line, the Corps has said.
Hamilton has made no secret his business has struggled during the past six summers when Lake Cumberland has been held about 40 feet below normal to facilitate repairs to the dam.
“It’s been an economic disaster,” said Hamilton. He has openly blamed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for financial struggles of marines on the lake and businesses in the region that depend on tourism.
“My criticism is the Corps’ “emergency order” says they would work with us (marinas) to mitigate damages to the maximum extent possible,” said Hamilton. “They haven’t done that.”
“We (Lee’s Ford Marina Resort) lost 60 percent of our water, an 800-acre park (Pulaski County Park) and a Corps recreation area (Fishing Creek Recreation Area), said Hamilton. Now that the water is coming up, moving parts of the marina to accommodate higher levels is also an expense marinas will have to bear, he noted.
Lee’s Ford Marina Resort near Nancy is located on the Fishing Creek arm of Lake Cumberland. Pulaski County Park and Fishing Creek Recreation Area, both upstream from the marina, have been left high and dry since the lake was lowered.

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