Boat ramps will close Monday on Lake Wylie, but it isn’t because of drought. It’s something much cooler.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Pat Morrison, park superintendent at Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill. “It’s going to be really cool to see the final product.”
Boat ramp closures at Ebenezer are part of a massive improvement and reconfiguration plan. It’s been about two years in the making. It’ll be another nine months or so of construction, with a grand opening by next summer if the weather cooperates.
“We do not anticipate them being closed for the whole period of the project,” Morrison said of the boat ramps, “but we do not anticipate a re-opening date for those (yet).”
The boat ramps could be open by spring. Ebenezer ramps get used plenty, both by the public and for special boating events like bass tournaments. Morrison has information on access sites at Allison Creek and Nivens Creek to use while Ebenezer is down. Lake Wylie also has Buster Boyd Access Area.
Often severe drought closes public access ramps along Lake Wylie. Closings during higher water are rare. Opening and closing information throughout construction will be available on the Ebenezer Park Facebook page.
While the ramp closures may inconvenience some, Morrison said he believes the end result will be something unlike anything to come to Ebenezer in his 25 years there.
“Nothing comes close to this,” Morrison said.
The 26-acre park will have trails, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a great lawn, corn hole area. It will have campsites, a playground, kayak and canoe launch, improved parking and ramp access along with a new roundabout.
The biggest feature, though, is easy to spot.
“The pier structure that will enclose our swimming area,” Morrison said.
A swim beach on the lake will be enclosed by a semicircular ring of pier shelters. The double-sided structures will have swings. They’ll brake the wake from boat traffic for swimmers, while allowing picnics on the water. Park guests can fish toward the outside of the shelters, connected with a ringed walkway.
“To me, that’s probably the coolest, most exciting feature we’ll have,” Morrison said.
Ebenezer had prior issues with erosion on its shores. As county leaders looked to address it, a larger plan came into focus.
Renovations began in September. Initial plans for the work in 2017 put the project at about $4.5 million. On Aug. 19, York County Council approved a $4.6 million bid for Leitner Construction Company to make the improvements at Ebenezer.
The bulk of the money will come from hospitality tax, the money charged on prepared food and drink in unincorporated areas. This past summer, Ebenezer also began collecting sales tax for camping reservations. That money supports campground facilities and operations.
Though access at Ebenezer has been and will continue to be limited during the work, Morrison said most guests understand.
“Most people are really excited about the changes that are coming,” Morrison said. “They understand, even with the interruptions in service what’s going on is a greater benefit of the park.”
Work at Ebenezer is yet another effort by elected leaders to provide or improve access to water. York County also has its Riverbend site, a 1,900-acre property on a bend in the Catawba River set to become a Rock Hill area nature preserve. Duke Energy has recreation improvements with municipalities to include another riverfront park site in Rock Hill, restoration of Great Falls and a swim beach in Chester County, plus upgrades or new sites all along Lake Wylie. Tega Cay has Catawba Park, on Lake Wylie.
In many ways Ebenezer is a forerunner to those projects. It’s been the lone public swim beach on Lake Wylie for some time. Morrison sees the trend, and believes it will send a wave of excitement through Ebenezer, too.
“Anytime you can put recreation on water, it’s going to be exciting for our community,” Morrison said.