MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - On Saturday, Ramsey Creek Beach opened for the first time this summer season, and much to the delight of beachgoers and neighbors, it was not as crowded as opening day in 2016.
Last year, overcrowding was an issue, as the public beach opened for the first time ever. Beach visitors began parking in nearby neighborhoods, forcing park rangers to put up "No Parking" signs at these neighborhoods' entrances.
Neighbors told WBTV they wanted the beach to be elsewhere after all of the congestion and commotion.
"It should have been either located on a different side of the park, or a different location all together," said Marissa Lundsten.
Beachgoers on Saturday were preparing for the worst. "It was really crowded last year. It was really hard to get in last year," said Harmony Barton.
This year, however, the congestion went down. A new traffic light was put up nearby.
Park rangers and Cornelius Police added more "No Parking" signs in residential areas. The park also added 50 new parking spaces in anticipation of large crowds.
Visitors said they noticed the difference.
"We just drove in and parked. We came down. There's plenty of space, not a lot of people," said Jermaine Watkins
Mecklenburg County officials estimate more than 60,000 people visited the beach last year.
Ramsey Creek Beach is one of just a handful of public beaches along Lake Norman.
While neighbors are happy it has been a whole lot less hectic this year, they're still waiting until Memorial Day weekend next week before breathing a sigh of relief.
"I guess we have to wait and see what happens," Lundsten said.
The beach will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays until June 9. After that, it will be open until 7:30 p.m., which is when it closes on weekends.