Charleston, WV - Delegates Ed Evans (D-McDowell) and Mick Bates (D-Raleigh) introduced House Bill 2953 seeking a feasibility study for lake development in Southern West Virginia. The lake may span over 50 thousand acres of land lined with hundreds of miles of lake front property. Smith Mountain near Roanoke, Virginia and similar large lakes could serve as models for the design and development of the lake.
If passed, the bill would establish the Southern West Virginia Lake Development Study Commission to determine whether the construction of a lake or lakes in the southern region of West Virginia is feasible and could act as a mechanism for economic revitalization.
“This legislation is a way to spur economic development and job creation in Southern West Virginia, and that’s been lacking for a long time,” Evans said. “We are not just looking at homes on a recreational lake, we want to see what commercial, industrial and recreational opportunities could be created if a large lake was constructed near highways with large tracts of land available for development.”
The Southern West Virginia Lake Development Study Commission would partner with the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research and the Marshall University Center for Business and Economic Research to conduct the feasibility study.
The delegates want the commission and partnering universities to identify what makes large lake developments like Smith Mountain Lake successful. They will study construction feasibility and the types of lake amenities and development sites that could promote economic growth. The will also consider how a lake development could enhance the Hatfield and McCoy ATV Trail System.
“This could be a chance to transform an area of the state that is in severe economic recession into a boom area. It could be a game changer for southern West Virginia and should at least be studied to see if it could work.” Bates said. “Southern West Virgina has long had a legacy of powering America through coal, it is worthy to study whether we can add hydro-electric generation to our state’s energy portfolio.”
The bill has been referred to the House of Delegates Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.