In a memorandum addressed to town leaders, Mayor Eddie Dees spelled out preliminary plans to repair and restore Hope Mills Lake, but says it will take a little while longer.
Hope Mills resident and business owner Donna Gray says she isn't looking forward to another summer without the lake. It's where her concession stand, Big T's, is located.
"We are depending on the community to bring everybody in here," Gray said. "This is a great family atmosphere, and that's what we have to depend on. Now we can't depend on the lake."
Last June, a sinkhole underneath the $14 million dam drained the lake and threatened the newly built structure. The new dam replaced an older earthen dam that washed out in 2003, and the town has been grappling with problems since then.
A part of the dam was removed to let water freely flow while engineers and inspectors decided if the dam could be fixed or if it would have to be replaced.
For the first time in a long time, everyone seems to be in agreement about the dam.
"The dam is repairable," Mayor Dees explained. "It does not have to be torn down. You can fix it. They are going to have to repair the damaged area then come back and put another wall underground in front. As I understand, that would keep the water from going back underneath like it did before."
Dees says engineers are working out repair details, and then state officials have to approve the plans.
"I'm hoping, I would be tickled to death if we have the lake next summer," Dees said.
Town residents are glad to finally see some progress but say they aren't holding their breath.
"We want it done right this go around and get some long term use out of this project," resident Mike Mitchell said.
Others are cautious.
"It gives me a little hope," Gray said. "I will believe it when it happens. I'll be very excited."
Mayor Dees didn't say how much the repair job was going to cost, but he pointed out that town taxpayers will not have to pay for repairs. That's been a very sensitive subject until now. Town leaders hope to have some concrete repair plans in place by next month.