CORNELIUS, N.C. — A new public beach opened Memorial Day weekend on Lake Norman in Cornelius, but visitors are frustrated by the lack of available parking and heavy traffic.
Neighbors told anchor Brittney Johnson they're discouraged by the congestion near Ramsey Creek Park Beach.
Park officials said everything is going smoothly at the beach, but their biggest challenges are getting visitors to the lake and finding enough parking.
The park manager told Eyewitness News that the combination of holiday weekend, the opening weekend and great weather created the perfect storm and a traffic nightmare.
Park officials and Cornelius police are cracking down on people who try to park in surrounding neighborhoods.
Park officials are asking people to be patient.
On opening day, which was Saturday, there were so many people that parking lots were full 30 minutes after the beach opened.
The beach holds 500 people, but there are only spaces for 127 cars.
Neighbors said they're grateful police are enforcing the parking rules to cut down on congestion near homes.
“I think it makes sense to not have parking on the side because you see down there? There is not enough shoulder, so you'd be in the road. It’s just a two-lane road,” Bryan Ives, who lives near the beach, said.
Families started filling Ramsey Creek Beach at 10 a.m. Memorial Day and by noon the parking lot was full. But that didn't' stop people.
The Williams family joined dozens of others parking at the bank up the street, unloading their cars and making the trek down Nantz Road.
"We figured let's take the hike and let's go to the beach," Lakisha Williams said. "I would have thought they would have planned it out a little better."
The beach holds 500 people but only has 127 parking spaces which is proving to be an inconvenience for drivers and neighbors.
Park officials said the crowd is turning over roughly every hour and a half.
"It is not going to be perfect we understand," said North Region Park Manager Chris Hunter.
Hunter said the county promised neighbors they would not tie up Nantz Road but he admits it can be backed up for five or six minutes.
"If you want to run off to the grocery store, you don't want to take an hour and a half to get back to home. We are very conscious of that," Hunter said.
They're placing "no parking" signs along the street and Cornelius police are patrolling nearby neighborhoods to stop people from parking there too.
Some neighbors are using small colored flags to block their yards while hoping for a long-term solution.
"It's very crowded. I think they need to try to get more parking down," neighbor Bryan Ives said.
Hunter said they do not have any other options for expanding parking within the park but they are hoping to work out a deal with nearby businesses to allow beach visitors to park on the weekend.
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