Who should take care of boat ramps?

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

CHESAPEAKE — Cleaning up the three boat ramps in the eastern end of the county could end up reaching out to Washington, D.C., as one Lawrence economic development leader says the fault lies with the agency that built them to begin with — the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The Corps has not stayed on top of this,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, said. “You need to be able to put a boat in the water. It is impossible to put a boat in the water safely. These are important to the community and need to be taken care of. We are going to see if we can get intervention from Sen. (Rob) Portman, Sen. (Sherrod) Brown and Rep. (Bill) Johnson.”

However the Corps said there isn’t any funding for the maintenance.

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The ramps in question are at Symmes Creek in Chesapeake by the Sixth Street Bridge going into Huntington; at Indian Guyan in Bradrick outside Proctorville and Lock 27 in Rome Township.

Last week Dingus, county commission President Les Boggs and a representative from the Huntington district of the Corps met to discuss possible solutions so the ramps could be used for more than launching canoes or kayaks.

“At Lock 27, there is so much work that needs to be done,” Dingus said. “The Corps put it in and it is probably a foot and a foot and a half lower. The edge is very unsafe. You could drive or fall over it. At Indian Guyan with all the silt it is almost prohibitive to use. You can’t put your boat in without damaging the props.”

According to Dingus the three ramps were put in when the Corps raised the level of the Ohio River in the 1960s. That sent water covering the ramps up and down the river that were there at that time. Some in the area would like to see the Lawrence County Port Authority take over ownership of the ramps so it could maintain them. Dingus, however, wants the Corps to step up.

“They built them as a mitigation,” Dingus said. “They need to accept the maintenance of these. We have tried to encourage them to maintain them. They want to transfer responsibility to someone. We believe the responsibility is with the Corps.”

But a spokesman for the Corps says the situation comes down to money.

“Those in charge of dredging say for the past eight years there has not been funding for any kind of dredging,” Charles Minsker said. “Also there are environmental concerns and you have to have a place to put the material.”