Mecklenburg County’s first swimming beach at a county-run park since the 1970s is set to open Saturday at Ramsey Creek Park on Lake Norman.
The county banned swimming at its parks after several drownings in the late 1970s, but the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has pushed for its return since the late 1990s.
Mecklenburg County commissioners voted unanimously in 2009 to lift the ban. But plans were curtailed by severe budget cuts to the Park and Recreation Department because of the recession.
The only other public swimming beach on Lake Norman has been at Lake Norman State Park, off Interstate 77, Exit 42, in Troutman.
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Ramsey Creek Park is on Nantz Road, off West Catawba Avenue and I-77, Exit 28, Cornelius.
Summer hours will be 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and lifeguards will staff the beach.
The beach is 15,000 square feet, or 0.34 acres, and the water is about 5- to 6-feet deep.
County and town officials held a dedication ceremony for the beach Tuesday morning.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation spent about $700,000 on the project, using bond money approved by voters in 2008.
Admission to the beach will be free, but park admission in summer is $3 per vehicle for Mecklenburg County residents and $5 per vehicle for nonresidents. The per-vehicle cost to seniors is $2 for county residents and $3 for nonresidents.
Season passes cost $52 for county residents, $77 for nonresidents, and $32 for seniors and people with disabilities who live in the county and $40 for those who don’t.