FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — For the first time since Hurricane Matthew breached the Smith Lake Dam, Smith Lake Beach is opening back up to military families.
It has been closed since the hurricane damage nearly five years ago.
“It got to the very top of our spillway and went over the top,” said James Day, Fort Bragg Branch Chief of Outdoor Recreation. “It bust open and all the water went running straight into downtown Fayetteville.”
Since then Fort Bragg invested about $3 million to fix the dam and renovate the beach.
Renovations include a handicap-accessible entrance, new pavilions, bumper boats, paddle boats, kayaks, and an entertainment area with a stage for re-opening events starting Thursday.
“We’re excited to get in those paddle boats,” said Bronwen Pence, a Fort Bragg military spouse. “I’ve never seen another facility like this.”
The beach used to be open to the public, but for now only DoD identification cardholders can come.
“There is a lot of time away from each other so when they are here we want to provide them with space where they can enjoy their time together,” Day said.
Right next to the beach, Fort Bragg officials cut the ribbon today on the $4 million Smith Lake Outdoor Recreation Center that can host catered events for up to 200 people.
“All that is now done, looking forward to having the fun and excitement of the families here now,” Day said.
The $5 entry fee will include the use of all water equipment.