Lake Holiday Cuts Ribbon on New Spillway

Ceremony recognizes the endof Lake Holiday Dam Project June 9, 2013  MATT ARMSTRONG/The Winchester Star: Former Lake Holiday Country Club Property Owners Association president Dave Buermeyer (from left), Assistant Frederick County Administrator Kris Tierney, POA President Barbara Magill, Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Frederick County, and Lake Holiday resident Ilse Jorgensen cut a ceremonial ribbon at the Lake HolidayDam on Friday. By MATT ARMSTRONGThe Winchester Star CROSS JUNCTION — A constant drizzle couldn’t keep more than two dozen Lake Holiday residents from attending a ribbon-cutting for their new dam on Friday morning.  Local officials joked that the presence of rain was a good thing, since it allowed residents to see how the new dam and spillway function.  The ceremony served as the official completion of the Lake Holiday Dam, slightly more than two years in the making.  A new dam — to replace the original structure built in 1970 — became a necessity when inspectors with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Dam Safety Division determined several years ago that the aging spillway could collapse during a major rain.  The new structure can withstand severe storms, including rainfall of up to 18 inches in a 24-hour period, according to Joe Wilder, deputy director of the Frederick County Public Works Department and the project manager.  Having the lake’s surface more than 10 feet below its normal level during construction — the surface is back to the pre-work level — had an impact on boating and fishing for residents, as well as affecting views over the water from homes along the shore, Barbara Magill of the Lake Holiday Country Club Property Owners Association said after the ceremony.  “Everybody was thrilled to have it back up to full power in all its natural beauty . . . ,” she said. “The lake wasn’t very pretty when it was down by 11 feet, and so now we’ve got this gorgeous lake again [and] our community is whole.”  The Lake Holiday development has about 840 homes and around 300 membership lots with no homes, according to Magill.  The lake contains about 2.5 billion gallons of water, reaching depths below 90 feet, according to Wilder.  Its 240-acre surface —820 feet above sea level —makes it the largest lake in the county. Lake Frederick, southeast of Stephens City, covers 117 acres, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Frederick County, whose 29th District represents Lake Holiday and the surrounding area in the state Legislature, joked during the ceremony that her legislative colleagues started calling her the “dam legislator” because she was involved in helping her constituents to navigate new regulations for dams.  “There were other dam owners throughout the commonwealth that were facing the same thing that Lake Holiday was facing [and] I have to say, you probably addressed it better than most of them, if not all of them,” she told the residents.  Frederick County Supervisor Robert Hess, who represents the Gainesboro Magisterial District that includes Lake Holiday, called the lake a “diamond” on the county’s landscape.  “That diamond, that gem, has been polished and reset with the completion of this dam,” he said during the ceremony.  During the 20-month construction, residents on the southern side of Lake Holiday had to use a temporary road — built at the start of the project — to connect about 85 homes in the area to Ebenezer Church Road, which connects to North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522).  The final part of construction was the completion of a road across the new dam that reconnects the north and south sides of the lake.  Robin Pedlar, 71, has lived on the lake’s south side for about eight years.  “[I’m] vastly relieved to be reconnected with the neighbor hood,” she said before the ceremony. “I’m extremely, extremely relieved that this is finally done . . . .This has been a heck of a long time coming.” Ilse Jorgensen, 74, also has lived on the lake’s south side for about eight years and said she is happy to be able to drive over the dam again.  “It’s nice to [drive] this way again because [Ebenezer Church Road] is a nice country road, but in the winter it’s very challenging,” she said after the ceremony.  “I wound up in a ditch [on] Christmas Eve [in 2012] because I slid right off the road.”  The project was financed by a $9.25 million, 20-year loan that property owners in the Lake Holiday Sanitary District have been making payments on since work began.  The project was completed about $400,000 under budget according to Wilder. Responsibility for the dam now rests with Lake Holiday residents and the property owners’ association.