CLAY COUNTY — After the wettest May on record that caused flooding of Clay County park properties across the Northland, electricity to some park amenities was turned back on as of June 17, Clay County officials said.
Clay County Assistant Administrator for Public Services Nicole Brown said because of recent heavy rains that seemingly did not let up, water rose in Smithville Lake, leaving greens at county golf courses in danger of flooding and covering sandy shores along swim beaches.
“You can see sand on our swim beaches again,” Brown said. “When the water came up, it came up 30 to 50 feet up the shoreline. I’m not talking about a vertical rise of 30 to 50 feet, but it completely covered our swim beaches. If you went out there, it was just grass and water immediately.”
High water and flooding in county parks rendered Rocky Hollow and Tryst Falls parks unusable and meant county staff had to shut off electricity through docks E, F and G at Paradise Point Marina at Smithville Lake. High water also made the disabilities-accessible dock at Crow’s Creek unusable.
“All of the electric is back on,” said Brown.
At the Posse golf course at Paradise Pointe in May and early June, golfers were discouraged from using some parts of the course as water impeded the cart path near holes 3 and 4 and other areas. At the Outlaw course, while playable, higher waters were visible around holes 10, 11 and 17, where geese were seen swimming near the greens.
To mitigate rising water in May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not release water through the Smithville Lake Dam. By the middle of June, the lake was 8 feet above regular pool level, said Smithville Lake Operation Project Manager Lora Vacca. In recent weeks, the Corps had been releasing water as the nearby Missouri and Little Platte rivers receded.
However, as of Monday, June 24, the Corps was again holding water as Little Platte began to rise again. Currently, the lake is roughly 6.5 feet above regular pool level.
Now that rain has let up some, Brown said the county is recovering some revenues lost from lack of visitors and reservation cancellations over the Memorial Day holiday. While campground reservations, marina revenues and park area entry passes netted the county $81,198 over Memorial Day weekend in 2018, in 2019 revenues stood at $50,822.
Excited to have some sunny days as of late, Brown said Clay County marinas at Smithville Lake have seen some big revenue jumps.
“We are seeing big increases from our typical weekends this early in the season. Generally, at our marina bait shop we would see about $3,000 in retail business on a weekend day, but we are up to about $4,500 a day there on the weekends.”
Brown said while other nearby lakes closed entirely due to flooding, Smithville Lake was able to stay open.
“We think that with the other lakes closed due to flooding and people trying to make up for that lost weekend, we will be able to rebuild that revenue lost from Memorial Day,” she said.