Vesuvius should be filled soon

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 6, 2003

Let the final countdown begin.

In just a few weeks, Lake Vesuvius will be refilled.

The dam valve will be closed at the end of October, once the boardwalk construction wraps up.

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"Even if they are not through with the decking, they can continue on that as the lake fills up," said Gloria Chrismer, district ranger for the Wayne National Forest's Ironton Ranger Station.

Once the valve is closed, it will take some help from Mother Nature to see how quickly it fills up. It could just be a few days if the area receives heavy rains.

Built in 1939, many people have been waiting anxiously for the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area to reopen. The 143-acre lake was drained in January 2001 to allow for improvements to the dam and boat ramp area, that included the boardwalk.

The $4.1 million dam and spillway renovation project has been completed, except for some landscaping, Chrismer said.

The $1 million boardwalk project is nearing completion and most of the structure itself has been completed. It still needs to be decked, Chrismer said. Spanning approximately 1,400 feet, the boardwalk will connect the boat ramp with the top of the dam.

Kevin Rowe, a carpenter for project contractors J & H Erectors Inc. of Portsmouth, said things have gone pretty well, despite some messy conditions.

"The mud has been a major issue, being a lake bed," he said. "Plus, it rained all summer."

The company built the boardwalk in 32-foot sections in New Boston and brought them to be placed on the pilings.

The parking lot has been expanded and a second entrance has been added. The boat ramp itself has been widened and dock points will be added. The parking lot still needs to be paved, and this should be completed by the end of the year, Chrismer said.

Chrismer said these improvements will make the boat ramp area much safer and easier to access.

The finishing touches are also being put on an observation deck atop the dam, she said.

"We will have a real neat observation deck," she said. "It will be real nice for folks to go out there and enjoy the view or fish if they want to."

One overlooked aspect of these projects is the financial benefit that these projects have provided, she said.

Nearly $1 million in stone and concrete for the improvements was purchased locally. Equipment was rented locally and contractors from the area were hired when possible, she said.

"It was really a boost to the local economy for these projects to be going on," she said.

The lake will begin to be restocked with bluegill before the end of the year, if enough water is in the lake. Bass, catfish and crappie will be added this spring.