Editorial: Conversation participation encouraged

Feb. 10, 2014 @ 11:06 PM

When the public has a concern, our democracy provides avenues to seek action. Another one of those is happening this evening on the campus of Vance-Granville Community College, weather permitting.

There, in the civic center between 4 and 7 p.m., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host an open house to talk about updating the shoreline management plan. If that doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry or feel bad. They’re updating the 1995 version for the John H. Kerr Reservoir.

The public input period will close at the end of the month. The new plan is not expected to be in place before next spring.

Kerr Lake has about 850 miles of shoreline in North Carolina and Virginia. Many people and properties will be affected by any decisions rendered.

As many things in life have changed since 1995, so too may great changes be forthcoming out of this process. Then again, there may be few.

But the public has a voice in the matter. The corps have provided the avenue with a series of open houses, two in Virginia last week and the one tonight.

How much impact the conversations will have on corps’ decisions is subject to debate. The corps has been described as a bureaucratic behemoth. We’ll agree and find it hard to simplify it further, though we know they’ve been called many other things and many unflattering.

Their job is thankless. We’d also point out that the timing is a bit troublesome. Many property owners are not necessarily residents of the area. The midweek late afternoon time frame is questionable to attract input.

The concerns we have for such a great resource as Kerr Lake begin with its sustainability. Changes in the environment within and around the lake will impact us and the 1.2 million visitors we see annually connected to lake activities.

It is also, along with our people, one of the greatest assets to this community. More likely than not, water is directly linked to future industrial economic growth.

If conversation this evening isn’t satisfying, we have to remember the route of our U.S. congressmen. They have a positive past record of being influential on the corps.

But if able, first we should help ourselves. And that means visiting the corps tonight.