By Pamela A. Keene

When water levels reached near-record levels in 2019, the Corps of Engineers closed West Bank Park on the south end of Lake Lanier. The rising waters caused damage and safety issues for the park, which includes picnic areas, boat ramps and access for swimming.

“Over the past year, we’ve made multiple renovations and safety improvements to West Bank Park,” said Tim Rainey, operations project manager at Lanier. “From replacing the wood retaining walls around the picnic sites to repairing sinkholes in the grassy area near the beach, the park will soon be ready for the 2020 season.”

Rainey said that many of the issues revolved around safety. The wooden walls had become unstable because of last year’s high lake levels. They have been replaced with poured concrete. Picnic sites’ concrete slabs were filled in underneath and leveled to prevent tripping hazards.

“The sinkholes on the beach side turned out to be drain pipes that were not long enough to reach the water,” he said. “Those have been extended and repaired, and the area has been firmed up.”

Other areas have been affected by shoreline erosion. In those cases, sections have been backfilled and rip rap has been installed. The Corps has also put up barriers where people created a shortcut along unstable shoreline. Non-native plants and trees have been removed or pruned.

The Corps has also removed the unused volleyball/basketball courts and will be repurposing the area into larger picnic sites.

“We brought in new sand for the beach in January, but we have yet to see if it remains after February’s rainfall,” Rainey said. “Depending on the amount of rainfall we get for the rest of February and into March, West Bank should be open by sometime in early April.”