In January, residents of the Westwood Chateau complex were told to leave their homes because of large voids found underneath the condominiums. Just last week, the fish that were living in the complex’s lake were relocated as well while officials still seek to determine the extent and cost of repairs.

The condition of the 32-unit Westwood Chateau complex is still being evaluated after the residents were urged to vacate their homes in January. Officials with the Westwood Chateau Condominium Homeowners Association said previously that an engineering firm found “significant voids” under the ground and it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. The engineer determined where the voids are and found the situation was precarious enough to call for a voluntary evacuation.

Since then the lake behind the complex has slowly been drained. Larry Greene, who is with the homeowners association, said previously this would take pressure off of the structure beneath the complex. Great Meadows Corp. is the owner of the lake behind Westwood Chateau.

Emergency Management Director William Kehler said last week that work is nearing completion at Westwood, as the water level ranges from 6 inches to around 2 feet in a small area.

Suttles Grading & Clearing, the contractor for this work, is preparing to start phase two of the project, which will involve constructing a permanent drain to allow the water to freely flow into Garden Creek and prevent the lake from refilling, according to Kehler.

“Emergency Management continues to monitor the situation and will make a final decision on disaster assistance once a final determination on the condominiums is made,” said Kehler to The McDowell News.

But as the lake is being drained, officials were also concerned about what to do with the fish living in it. Kehler said an individual had expressed interest in relocating the fish to a private pond but that man was not able to complete the project.

So on Monday, staff from McDowell Emergency Management used large casting nets to catch the fish at Westwood Chateau. Approximately 400 fish, including catfish, bluegill, bass and crappie, were relocated to the pond on the 360-acre property behind the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Some very large fish were moved on Monday, with one weighing an estimated 12 pounds.

“The operation was conducted in an effort to prevent a large fish kill at Westwood,” said Kehler. “An attempt to net the remaining fish will be made and relocate them once the contractor completes some additional work.”

Meanwhile, the homeowners association is still trying to determine the extent and cost of repairs for the area underneath the complex. Jane Neal, president of the association, said Friday there is nothing new to report.

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