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Lexington’s Old Mill Pond will finally be full again - after water levels drop elsewhere

Lexington residents will soon see the levels of local bodies of water drop — only to see a big rise in another that has long been bone dry.

The town announced Thursday that over the next week, water levels will be lowered in Barr Lake and Gibson Pond. The lower levels will allow crews to complete repair work for a concrete spillway for the Old Mill Pond, which has undergone years of repair work after a 2015 dam failure emptied the once notable feature of the local landscape.

Once work on the spillway is complete, not only will Barr Lake and Gibson Pond return to their previous water levels, but Old Mill Pond will soon be full again for the first time in nearly a decade, the town said in a news release.

Lexington is also in the process of completing a paved one-mile walking trail around the pond, which the town said should be ready to open to the public once Old Mill Pond is full again.

Work finished in the summer of 2023 rebuilding the earthen dam that had held back the mill pond prior to a 2015 storm that led to dam failures and flooding across the Midlands.

For years, visitors to the adjacent Old Mill — now converted to space for shops, restaurants and pubs — have looked out from what was once the lakeside parking lot over a steep ledge to the bottom of the pond below, now overgrown with scrub from years exposed to the open air and, more recently, crews working to prepare the pond for refilling.

But that view will soon change. The town announced Thursday a grand opening date will be announced when the walking trail is ready to open around a full pond. The pond will then once again provide hydropower to the old mill, only now serving operations at Hazelwood Brewing inside the renovated building.

Crews have moved at least 30,000 to 40,000 cubic yards of dirt to complete the new dam, The State previously reported, and reinforced with a concrete sheeting anchored into the ground and the side of the mill building.

Years of work on the dam were completed for less than $2 million, and Lexington is spending another $3 million on the walking trail, including trail lighting and security cameras.

A new town parking lot at the base of the dam will provide access to the trail, with other access points at the Old Mill’s upper and lower parking lots, South Lake Drive by New Bethel AME Church, the Reserve apartments and the Parker Street Commons.