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First county boat ramp search begins

A movement is underway to construct a public boat ramp on the Ohio River along Harrison County’s shoreline.
But there are miles to go before we launch, as poet laureate Robert Frost might have said.
“First, you can do nothing without a permit,” said a spokesperson with the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Water in Indianapolis. “You would apply for that here, and we would need a map of where it would be located.
“First, you would apply by letter telling the DNR what you are wanting to do, and they would send an application packet.”
An Indianapolis consulting/engineering firm, Burgess and Niple, wants to help Harrison County cut to the chase. That company would involve the DNR in the selection process and coordinate with other state or federal agencies which likely would need to sign off on the project, such as the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Christopher J. Ogg, project manager with Burgess and Niple.
The fee totals $5,300 for the preliminary phase of the project. “The lion’s share of that is for coordination, getting everybody together. We will put together the preliminary documents,” Ogg said.
Main concerns would be avoiding riverfront sites which might be prone to erosion or rising water cutting off parking areas.
A cost estimate for the ramp can’t be determined until a site is selected, but federal or state agencies might bear part of the expense.
“Since the DNR is interested, they may chip in some money,” Ogg said. That’s a possibility because Harrison County has no public boat ramp.
Harrison County Commissioner Terry L. Miller asked the county council at its recent planning session to approve funding to hire the consulting firm, and that is expected to be on the council’s agenda for Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.
There are two private ramps, one at Mauckport and another at New Amsterdam, but there are no public ramps on Harrison County’s estimated 60 to 70 miles of riverfront, Miller said.
“I think it’s a shame to have that much river frontage not being used,” he said. “It’s something we’ve (the three commissioners) talked about for some time, and I think there should be something like that in Harrison County.
“We’re just trying to get some cost estimates together to see if it’s worth pursuing.”
If approved by the council, the funds would come from Caesars Indiana gaming tax dollars in the riverboat economic development account, which had a balance on July 22 of $1.3 million.

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