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In the next few weeks, Liberty University hopes to lower the water in Ivy Lake to make repairs to its dam, according to Lee Beaumont, senior vice president of Auxiliary Services at Liberty.
Initial calculations placed the repair costs at approximately $2.5 million. Through 18 months of working with Tom Roberts, an engineer at the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), changes were made in scope, design, and types and quantity of materials used, according to Beaumont. The process resulted in significantly reduced repair prices.
Before the process can begin at the lake located off of Perrowville Rd. in Forest, Va., there are two things that must happen, according to Beaumont.
“The first thing is that we need a couple weeks to finalize the design and submit it to the DCR until they give us approval,” Beaumont said.
According to Beaumont, because DCR has been involved, the process is not expected to take an exceptional amount of time.
Beaumont said, since receiving the lake as a gift in 2008, Liberty has made a number of modifications to the property, such as building a beach and a 40-foot dock.
DCR called Liberty “exemplary dam owners,” according to President Jerry Falwell, Jr.
“When we took it, there was a lot of deferred maintenance on the dam,” Beaumont said. “We put in some concrete to prevent erosion. We moved groundhogs. We cut trees. We put together all these things — an emergency action plan, an operations manual. We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to do, and we’ve kept it in good shape.”
The second thing that must happen before repairs can be made is homeowners must come up with a viable way to take ownership of the lake from Liberty, according to Beaumont. Opinions of residents greatly differ on the matter, partly due to the fact that Ivy Lake is not part of any homeowners association.
“You’ve got some that think everyone should pay their fair share because, obviously, they take great benefit from the lake,” Beaumont said. “You’ve got others we haven’t heard from and still others who don’t think they should have to pay for anything at all.”
According to the Liberty University News Office, a majority of the property owners are willing to accept the deal proposed by Liberty and take ownership of the lake.
Liberty students’ use of the lake will be subjected to whatever is negotiated between the university and property owners, according to Beaumont. This means students may not be able to use the lake for recreation anymore and would have to use Hideaway Lake instead.
“I know a lot of people are upset about this, but if Liberty was not partnered in this right now, the homeowners would be stuck with the entire bill of fixing this thing,” Beaumont said. “It’s almost like looking a gift horse in the mouth. We are going to fix it, pay the bulk of the price, and give it to you. We are a little befuddled on why it is taking so long to get this thing passed through.”
According to Beaumont, a happy ending would involve the dam being repaired, the homeowners taking ownership and the lake being raised back to its normal level.
“That’s really what we are all hoping for,” Beaumont said.
According to Beaumont, once negotiations are complete, the repair process should take approximately six weeks.