A few years ago, the Army Corps performed extensive work at Lock and Dam No. 1, located in the East Arcadia community about 6 miles northwest of Riegelwood. The renovations were to make the park a better fishing location and better picnic area, and the dam was changed to make it easier for fish to cross it to reach their upstream spawning grounds.
These renovations sounded like a great idea at the time. Who wouldn’t be excited about a recreational site being improved, as well as being made to assure that there will be fish in the future for people to catch?
But there is an old saying that “anything that sounds too good to be true usually is” — and this is one of those instances.
The government spent well into the double-digit of millions of dollars to create what is now being viewed as a complete and utter mess by some of those living nearby. The parking at the fishing area has been reduced; the design of the new dam has only created a trash problem at the park; because of the design, the current coming over the dam is different than that of the older dam, which does not allow trees, trash or anything that comes across it to leave the area (the current is now more of a circular current that drives all of this debris to the boat ramp, fishing pier and sometimes just circling right in the middle of the river).
The Lock and Dam was a place that generations of local folks have taught their sons and daughters how to fish and enjoy nature just as they did. This local fishing area is a centerpiece of black heritage in that area of Bladen County. This fishing area is a place where youngsters came to have fun instead of doing drugs, joining gangs and committing crimes. Fathers taught sons how to provide for their families and become men at this place.
This area is a piece of history that does not deserve the treatment it is getting now.
The park also is the site of the annual Blue Monday Shad Festival, a gathering that for centuries has been a part of the community. With the park in the condition as it is now, no one may be able to get a boat in the water to catch the shad to cook for the festival this year.
The area is now a disappointment to many — and the money that was spent, tax money most likely, could have been used for other things that would go a long way toward bettering the community, like teacher pay, books for schools, road repair, or the elderly.
What may be most important is there are plans in the works to try and do the same thing at the Lock and Dam No. 2 in Elizabethtown, and we hope area residents and officials will be wary of what gets done there. people shouldn’t be happy with a repeat of what took place near Riegelwood. Nor should they give the federal government a pass on the blunder it created at Lock and Dam No. 1.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s not that mistake get made, but how they are corrected that defines us.”