• 52°

Coal Grove boat ramp becomes reality

COAL GROVE — After about eight years of planning, hoping and building, the Coal Grove-Ice Creek Boating and Fishing Access is finally open to the public.

The plan for the dock began in 1999 when the village applied for funds and began to study the feasibility of putting a boat dock behind the wastewater plant. The project came in over the expected price and was scaled down until it fit the budget.

On Friday, the floating dock and large parking lot were officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony despite a light rain that sent everyone under a pair of tents.

“We are very happy to have it done,” said Mayor Larry McDaniel.

The access area features 37 spots for boats, trailers and trucks and a floating dock.

Former Mayor Tom McKnight said it was a thrilling day for him. He took office in 2000 when the project was beginning and thought it was great since there wasn’t any cost to the village. The $643,000 project was 100 percent funded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

He said he thought it was kind of ironic that it was raining during the ceremony because of the first time officials checked out the site.

“It was raining torrents when the man from ODNR said this was the perfect location,” he said.

McDaniel said Mother Nature wasn’t very kind to the project this spring.

“I think we got flooded out three times,” McDaniel said. “But we finally got it cleaned up and we are really proud of this project.”

McDaniel said there will be more work done on the project. When funding is available, the road to the boat ramp will be paved and used as an entrance-only road. An exit road will be built toward the river side of the wastewater plant.

Dean Palmer, the area supervisor with the Division of Watercraft, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said ODNR is always interested in making better access to waterways.

The department’s funds come from licensing of boats and gas tax.

“So this doesn’t hit the taxpayers’ wallet,” he said. “It came from what we get for boating.”

He said the idea was to give back to the boaters.

“When you buy your boat license, this is your money coming back to you,” Palmer said.

Palmer and McDaniel said they expect there to be some benefit to the area.

“People will come here, they will buy gas for their boats near where they launch, they will buy drinks and foods and stuff like that,” Palmer said. “By doing that it brings people to the area and commerce can sell their goods.”

McDaniel said besides commerce, there are several fishing tournaments already in the works.

“I don’t think it will be a huge boost to the economy, but everything helps,” McDaniel said.

McKnight said he would like to see a Phase 4 of the project, which would add more things for the handicapped, hopefully something like the boardwalk at Lake Vesuvius.

“It’s a great facility,” he said. “I want people to be able to get access to the river for people in wheelchairs. I think that would be great.”