By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The second part of the Island Park Restoration Project is set to begin in the next few weeks. The project has the goal of improving the shoreline of the Oconaluftee River to prevent erosion as well as make improvements to the Island Park itself.
“We are re-doing all of the pathways on the Island,” said Damon Lambert, EBCI Building Construction manager. “We are going to put concrete on most of the pathways. We are also redoing the entire parking lot on the Acquoni Road side so it’ll be paved, have sidewalks, new landscaping, new lighting, and a better connection to the actual Island.”
Lambert said construction is set to start at the end of September and should be finished by the end of the year. The cost of the second part of the project is $400,000, and it is being funded entirely by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Owle Construction, a TERO firm, will be doing all of the construction.
According to Lambert, plants for the project’s landscaping will be provided, free of charge, by the Tribe’s Native Plant Facility.
This project is the second part of the Island Park Restoration Project. “We completed the in-stream work earlier this summer,” said Lambert. The first part of the project cost $200,000 and was also funded by the Tribe.
The first part of the project involved stabilizing the Island by putting smaller rocks on the banks, doing various landscaping on the Island, and placing large boulders in the river – all with the goal of erosion-control.
“A lot of the work being done is to help cut down on erosion and help stabilize the banks so we’re doing some landscaping and some fencing to try to shore up some of those areas and hopefully that’ll make the Island last a lot longer.”
Lambert said the erosion-control efforts are working well so far, but they haven’t been seriously tested yet. “It’s been really dry so we haven’t had a big rain event, and the river hasn’t gotten high. We haven’t seen how those structures work, but they’re all engineered so hopefully if we do get a flood event, they’ll work as designed.”