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County should pursue Ohio River boat ramp

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

Harrison County government officials have recently discussed the possibility of building a boat ramp somewhere along the 45 miles or so of Ohio River shoreline. For recreation and, more importantly, for emergency services and law enforcement, the county should pursue the project if the cost is not too high.
The county council will vote on a $39,000 additional next week for a study to be conducted to determine many aspects of the potential project, including location.
The closer the ramp is to S.R. 135, whether in Mauckport or somewhere nearby, the better it will be for attracting boaters and the best for emergency access.
When there’s a search or search-and-rescue operation on the river, emergency personnel could quickly travel down S.R. 135 and launch their boats.
Surprisingly, Harrison County is the only county along the Ohio River in Indiana lacking public access to the river.
Officials spoke about adding many aspects to the ramp, such as a playground, parking lot, boat loading pier, fishing area, shelter house, even an amphitheater and recreation fields. They also said the ramp area could eventually become a park and be added to the Harrison County Parks Department.
The county doesn’t want to bite off more than it can chew, because all of those amenities could be built and the ramp not be used often and everything around it then would be a waste.
The best course of action would be to build the ramp and parking lot and monitor the number of visitors for six months or a year, before moving forward with the surrounding additions.
District 3 Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said he sees the ramp as an economic development project that could spur business in the area. If so, it would be an added plus to a needed project.
The study, by Strand Associates, will be complete by February if it is approved by the council.
The boat ramp along the Ohio, which makes up the county’s entire southern border, is long overdue and something the county should pursue.