Hexagon Wake Park, a wakeboarding attraction, is leaving Tucker Lake near Benson at season’s end, but Tucker Lake is staying put.
That sounds straightforward, but years of litigation between between family-owned Tucker Lake and Hexagon owner Paula Bullock have muddied the waters.
In a story about keeping cool in the summer heat, Bullock said the lake, a popular swimming and recreation destination, would close when the wakeboarding park picked up stakes at summer’s end.
But Hollie Tucker Winters, one of several part-owners of Tucker Lake, said the lake would remain open after Hexagon moves on.
“My family and I have owned and operated this business for 24 years,” Winters said, referring to Tucker Lake, which offers swimming, water slides, beach volleyball, concessions and picnic areas with grills. “The lake is not moving.”
But wakeboarding won’t be on the menu for at least two years because of a non-compete clause between Tucker Lake and Hexagon. That’s OK with Winters.
“We’re not going to run the wake park anyway; we don’t want it,” said Winters, who is clearly at odds with Bullock. “But everything else that’s there is our property, and she can’t take it; it’s not hers.”
“Everything else” includes a playground, paddle boats and a bathhouse. Tucker Lake is also adding an RV campground, which it hopes to open next season.
Hexagon Wake Park signed a five-year lease at Tucker Lake on Jan. 1, 2012. The lease expires next Jan. 1 and won’t be renewed, Winters said.
That no doubt has a lot to do with four years of litigation between Bullock and the Tucker and Winters families, owners of the lake.
Among hundreds of pages in three files at the Johnston County Courthouse are allegations from both parties.
Bullock and Hexagon accuse the Tucker and Winter families of a host of sins: interfering with operation of the wake park; intimidation and threats, both verbal and physical; assault; physically blocking construction and improvements; conspiring to push Hexagon out so the families could open their own wake park; draining the lake; and interfering with vendors.
The Tucker and Winters families accuse Bullock and Hexagon of destroying and damaging property; using improper or unapproved equipment; making changes to the property without permission; trespassing; damaging utilities; failing to maintain insurance; late payments; introducing fish into the lake without permission; causing erosion; fraud; forgery; and tampering with signage.
Both sides had choice words for each other.
“She has tried to assume our identity,” Winters said of Bullock. “She is a monster. She is trying to ruin our business, telling lies and whatever she can do.”
“They’re trying to sabotage our move and ruin my business,” Bullock said of the Tucker family. “They’ve been suing me for years.”
Bullock initiated the litigation, making her the plaintiff and the Tucker and Winters families the defendants. The Tucker and Winters families filed several countersuits.
Mediation proved fruitless, with the mediator saying both parties “appear to be wholly unable to work together or through counsel” to act in good faith and make reasonable efforts to perform their obligations under the lease.
The litigation continues, Winters said.
What becomes of Hexagon Wake Park is uncertain.
Bullock said she’s moving her wake park to Granville County. It will open next spring at 1701 Hester Road near Creedmoor, she said.
But Granville County Planning Director Barry Baker said his office had not received an application for a wake park at that address. A wake park there would require a zoning change, he said.
Bullock’s business partner, Vickie Wheeler, said she and Bullock had not approached the county because nearby towns were interested in annexing the land. The mayors of Creedmoor and Butner said that was not the case in their towns. The mayor of Stem could not be reached for comment.
Bullock and Hexagon Wake Park manager Brittney Olsen said they hope the thousands of visitors they see at the wake park now near Benson will follow them to the new location.
“We’ve outgrown this spot, and we want to do so much more with extreme sports,” Olsen said. “This just isn’t a prime location, and we’re pretty limited.”
Bullock added, “We’re going to have camping, paintball, dirt bike trails, a restaurant, boat lessons ... and we’ll have three lakes at the new location.”
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett