New boat launch and park could be headed to Gulf Shores

By: John Mullen/ Islander Contributor
Posted 8/28/17

GULF SHORES – The city and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are exploring a partnership to possibly build a boat launch and park on Intracoastal Waterway.

Potentially, …

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New boat launch and park could be headed to Gulf Shores

Posted

GULF SHORES – The city and Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are exploring a partnership to possibly build a boat launch and park on Intracoastal Waterway.

Potentially, the new dual ramp could replace the one under the Alabama 59 bridge.

“That boat ramp is highly utilized over there,” Councilman Philip Harris said. “But with the development of the Waterway District, the roadways that have been constructed for the district, and the currents, that’s a very challenging boat ramp. A relocation of that would be ideal.”

If the boat ramp plan comes to fruition, it could likely utilize the small harbor cut into the north bank of the canal on state land there.

“One of the big issues there under the bridge is the current and the barge traffic,” Economic Development Coordinator Blake Phelps said. “Trying to get in and out of there is really difficult and dangerous. This would give a safe harbor area for boaters to come into to get out of the canal traffic and the current that’s there.”

Phelps asked the council to fund a $13,000 study by Amec Foster Wheeler Engineering to study the state parcels to see if the park and boat ramp is feasible. The state has two parcels on East Waterway Boulevard on the north side of the canal, one on the water that’s 9 acres, and another north of the road that is 3.7 acres. The parcels are just east of Saunders Yachtworks.

“They will look at three different schematic alternatives,” Phelps said. “Two will include boat launch options, park options and one would just go back to our original discussion, just the landscaping. They are going to have this done for us in about 60 days.”

The discussion began when the Phelps and City Administrator Steve Griffin met with state officials about placing landscape screening around the perimeter of the property. One part stores used shells for the oyster shell recycling program and the other sometimes has materials to make artificial reefs in the Gulf.

“They actually hold that material until they acquire enough of it to bring in a barge and take them out to make reefs,” Phelps said. “We wanted to screen the area with some landscape buffering. Then we started talking about their long-term plans for the site.”

Phelps said the state was actually using very little of the area.

“They don’t need all of it for the operations they have or even their long-term plan, they don’t ever envision utilizing the entire piece of property,” he said.

The city would seek grants to help pay for building two ramps, parking areas and restrooms and help pay for maintaining the facility while the state provides the property.

“Part of the ongoing maintenance is something we could potentially absorb as a city as part of a lease payment to utilize that property and maintain the parking and the boat launch,” Phelps said. “MRD has some needs on their site, some things we might be able to partner with them as well.

“We haven’t gotten into the details at this point. We want to hire these guys to see if it will fit, is it possible or maybe it’s not. If it is, then we’ll get to the next step and start having those conversations.”