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Hope Mills leaders to get update on dam repairs

Hope Mills commissioners were expected to get an update Wednesday night about repairs to the Hope Mills Dam.

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HOPE MILLS, N.C. — Hope Mills commissioners were expected to get an update Wednesday night about repairs to the Hope Mills Dam.

The $14 million dam was drained in June after a structural failure around the drainage system allowed a sinkhole to develop, causing water to flow out beneath the dam. The 2-year-old dam replaced an earthen dam that washed away in a 2003 storm.

A state engineer said a break in vinyl sheeting in the dam's foundation sent water gushing out, but what exactly caused the break remains under investigation.

“As of today, nobody has really accepted responsibility,” said Mike Mitchell, president of the community group Friends of Hope Mills Lake.

Town Manager Randy Beeman said it could be three to five years before it gets fixed.

“The three-year window is not that three years from now we start building. That is from the permitting, design phases, renewing phases and approval phase,” Beeman said Wednesday.

Beeman said crews are still working to stabilize the structure.

Mitchell said the dry lake-bed means a drought of business for places like Big T's, a lakeside snack shop.

“I think their business has really dropped off tremendously and also for downtown Hope Mills,” Mitchell said.

There is also a concern about sinking property values. The town has already endured six years with no lake after the earthen dam breached.

Mitchell said the idea of waiting three more years is disappointing.

Town officials said they are committed to repairing the dam. Beeman said no one has brought up the possibility of removing it. “It’s certainly the focal point of the community, and we want the lake back,” he said.

Beeman said the dam can be salvaged. “Indications are that it will not have to be totally demolished,” he said.

An official with the state handling dam safety did not return calls on Wednesday.

Beeman said he has no timeline for investigating what went wrong with the dam – and no price tag for fixing it. He said he hopes the town will not have to bear the brunt of the cost.

Beeman said the town has not spent anything since the dam failed. The engineers and contractors have paid for securing the dam and investigating what happened.

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Bryan Mims, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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