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An improvement project for Cherokee Lake Park is well underway, and City officials report that while the lake continues to drain, citizens are cautioned to limit their usage to the portions of the park that remain open. These portions include the pavilions, playground and walking trail. Boat access and wading into the lake and lake bed are prohibited at this time.

“While Cherokee Lake is draining, the lake is closed,” said Jerry Pionessa, Assistant City Manager/City Engineer. “Park users are welcome to continue enjoying all of the park’s amenities during construction, but walking into the exposed areas of the lake is unsafe and is not permitted.”

Pionessa said that Cherokee Lake has been draining for about two weeks and is now at about 70% capacity. As the lake continues to drain, the exposed areas of the lake are revealing items that were previously underwater. While the temptation is great to walk into this area and retrieve those items, citizens should refrain from doing so.

“As the water lowers, debris and other items are becoming visible from the bank of the lake,” he said. “We’ve had some individuals that have attempted to walk on this area, and this could pose a safety risk. Some folks are very well intentioned and just want to contribute to the beautification of the park by picking up the debris. However, walking in the muck is not safe and citizens should follow the same park rules that apply to the lake, even in a drained state.”

Plans are in the works to organize a park clean-up that will include portions of the lake bed in conjunction with Hands On Thomas County Day later this fall. “Waiting until then will hopefully allow the lake to be completely drained and much drier, which will be safer for those who wish to participate,” said Pionessa.

Citizens who want to learn more about the Cherokee Lake Park project can participate in one of two community walks that are scheduled in September.

“During these community walks, we’ll walk the park together and give park users and opportunity to hear firsthand from project engineers the various portions of the lake and the park that will be addressed in the scope of the
project,” said Lauren Radford, Director of Engagement and Outreach. “We will conduct the sessions at two convenient times, giving everyone who has an interest in the project and opportunity to attend.”

The Cherokee Lake Park community walks will be held on Tuesday, September 12th at 5:30 p.m. and then again at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 14th.

In the meantime, as the lake continues to drain, fishing enthusiasts are encouraged to continue fishing the lake. “No permit or license is required,” said Pionessa. “We just ask that those fishing at the lake do so from a dock area or from the grassy areas of the lake bank.”