Local, county and state officials gathered Jan. 15 to officially kick off the much anticipated Baldwin County Intracoastal Waterway Boat Ramp project.
Members of the Baldwin County Commission, state legislators and Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon gathered at 22700 Brown Lane in Orange Beach to commemorate the land acquisition, but it will be years before the first boats slip into the water on this site. Officials said they hope to have the first phase open in the spring of 2022. A three-month feasibility study will now begin, and the design of the boat ramp should be finished in the next year.
This project is a long time coming. In May 2018 the county commission unanimously approved signing a letter of intent to push forward the plan to develop the 44.5-acre facility, complete with 450 parking spaces, 12 boat ramps, two kayak launch sites, waterfront gazebos and other family-friendly site attractions.
In November 2019, Governor Kay Ivey announced that 16 projects, $28 million worth, would be supported by funds from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA). These projects focus on land acquisitions, research and recreational access improvements, which are included in the original intent and authorized use of GOMESA funds.
The intracoastal boat launch project was one of the 16 projects receiving $ 7.5 million in GOMESA funds. Shortly after the announcement, the County Commission announced the acquisition of 44.5 acre site.
Sen. Chris Elliott announced the news on his Facebook page.
“It’s official. The County now owns this property and is proceeding with plans for a large public boat launch thanks to state GOMESA funding. This project has been years in the making and I look forward to the County Commission bringing this project to fruition. Congrats to everyone involved but most importantly to the boating public,” he said.
The cost will vary depending on how much more GOMESA funding becomes available and variable construction costs. The project could cost more than $12 million.
“We have been working on this for a long, long time. We had several ones that closed, and it left the citizens without a place to go, and right now they still don’t have anything. Once we have this finished its going to give the citizens a place to go launch their boats and enjoy the water," said Commissioner Charles Gruber, Baldwin County District Four.