New Lake's name? New Lake

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Lake is officially named New Lake - again.

Ten months ago, Lewisburg's City Council renamed it Lewisburg Lake.

Tuesday night, the Council unanimously voted to change the name back to what it had been for decades.

One of several reasons given to change the name back to what it was is to make people happy. They like the old name, New Lake.

Former Mayor Bob Phillips said in December that he thought renaming the lake was a way to draw attention to the body of water that's the centerpiece of a city park that is not within the city limits of Lewisburg. It's been a source of city water and has been transformed into what might be mistaken for a state or federal park.

There was a contest to rename the lake that didn't get much attention, but after the lake's name was changed, it became a campaign topic. Councilman Ronald McRady said residents mentioned the lake's name when he spoke with voters as he campaigned door-to-door before the election in May.

McRady and others at City Hall on Tuesday night spoke nostalgically about the lake. It's been where a son or grandson caught their first fish with an older man who now wants that same experience for another young relative.

Marshall County Emergency Management Agency Director Bob Hopkins wrote to the Council last year asking that the name not be changed. Tuesday, he delivered a petition with signatures from 152 people who want the lake's name to be New Lake.

"The people who signed the petition had a little tale to tell about how much they enjoy the lake," Hopkins said, having explained he'd been roped into getting a petition to the Council.

But as director of the Emergency Management Agency, Hopkins leads a recurring rewrite of plans on how to respond to disasters and other emergencies. That includes names of places in the county. Name changes have to be accommodated.

Furthermore, "In 2007, the importance of the lake was seen," he continued. "We came close to having to use the lake as our source of water."

That summer, the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, with the help of Hopkins' office and volunteer firefighters, made water available at no charge to anyone who went to one of three designated fire hydrants with a container. The southern part of the county was hardest hit by the drought.

"What's the problem with calling it Lewisburg Lake?" Councilman Robin Minor asked. "People can still fish there."

Minor explained his questions were to explore the issue.

"It's the feeling," Hopkins replied.

McRady then told his campaign tale of doorstep conversations, and estimated that nearly a third of the people signing the petition live on New Lake Road. Still, it's the memory of father-son fishing trips that motivated McRady.

"My son caught his first fish there, and now he's taking my grandchildren there," the councilman said.

And, he said, "It's confusing when you have Lewisburg Lake on New Lake Road."

Meanwhile, there's Old Lake located on Old Lake Road.

Old Lake was the city's source of water until 1924 when New Lake was built. It remained the city's water source until 1948 when a pipeline was built to the Duck River at Milltown where a new raw water intake system was installed.

"Old Lake is higher than New Lake and water had to be pumped to the Old Lake from which it flowed by gravity," City Manager Eddie Fuller explained after the meeting.

Councilman Odie Whitehead Jr. said he noticed a Chamber of Commerce booklet uses the Lewisburg Lake name. He complimented the booklet, disclaimed any attempt to speak for the Chamber, and eventually voted with three other members of the Council for the name change.

Councilwoman Quinn Brandon said she had no personal preference for one name or the other.

"I don't know what the big deal is," Brandon said. "Nobody seemed to care when we changed it. Now, there are people who do. So, let them have their way."

"I think," Minor said, "we're stepping on the previous Council and a mayor."

Phillips didn't run for re-election.

"Nobody spoke for the name change before other than the mayor," Brandon said, emphasizing another change will make some people happy.

Members of the Council and those in the audience seemed pleased. After the meeting was adjourned several people said hardly anybody had called Old Lake Lewisburg Lake during the 10 months it was officially named Lewisburg Lake.