Local News

Rocky Mount Streamlines Plan to Purchase Historic Dam

Posted August 1, 1999

— For more than 100 years, the Old Mill Dam has been one ofRocky Mount's best known landmarks.

The dam provided power for generations of factory workers. Today, the mill is closed, but the old dam may be finding its way to a new job. City leaders say they could save more water upstream in the Tar River Reservoir, if they could release water downstream at the old dam.

"By the city having control over that dam, then we'll be able to allow water to continue to flow over it and not just impounded," says Stephen Raper, Rocky Mount's city manager. "Therefore, we can control both the flows on both dams."

The trouble is that the city does not own the dam, but they are currently trying to get approval from the state. The dam's owner says the old wall is for sale along with most everything else on the historic site.

"The property is still for sale," says John Mebane, president of Rocky Mount Mills. "We've had some interested developers talking with us, we are still talking with several parties, and we're optimistic that we will bring about a sale some time in the near future."

Rocky Mount's water supply is in good shape right now. In spite of this summer's drought, a few well-timed showers have helped to keep the river level up. The city says it would rather work on the situation now before it turns into a problem.

Rocky Mount says the old dam is just one option, and so far no one has said how much it will cost. But observers say the purchase could be the best way to bring new life to one of the city's oldest structures.

Rocky Mount city leaders say they are only interested in the dam, not the buildings at the mill. Private developers are expected to buy the remainder of the facility.

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