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Tour builds support for boat ramp

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

After attending a boat ramp tour led by the Harrison County Board of Commissioners, it became evident that a well-built, conveniently located public boat ramp could be quite successful in Harrison County.
The tour was helpful, because the commissioners and Strand Associates representatives ‘ the company conducting the boat ramp feasibility study for the county ‘ were able to see different aspects of boat ramps and surrounding property that they’d like to include in the Harrison County project. It also gave the commissioners an idea of what not to do when it comes to boat-ramp building.
Strand will come back to the commissioners before the end of the year with a couple of possible sites along the approximately 45 miles of Ohio River shoreline in the county for a boat ramp.
The best features of the ramps toured include a wide, easy-to-navigate ramp that has plenty of parking spaces that are large enough for boat trailers, as well as parking for regular vehicles. Some sort of safe, durable loading pier is also essential to a successful ramp.
Other features of the boat ramp property discussed, such as a marina, amphitheater, playground and sports fields, are not essential but could make the site more appealing and attract more visitors.
The ramp would not only enhance recreation for Harrison Countians, it would also be beneficial for emergency services and law enforcement when disaster strikes on the Ohio River or on the shores of our county.
Assuming the ramp is located near S.R. 135, emergency personnel could quickly travel down the state road and launch their boats.
Surprisingly, Harrison County is the only county along the Ohio River in Indiana that lacks public access to the river.
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. He said he’d like to have mobile vendors at the Harrison County ramp site selling concessions and, if a private investor wants to build a restaurant on the property, it would be a good opportunity to do so.
Harrison County Engineer Kevin Russel said the ramp and surrounding property could eventually become a county park.
‘I think this project is the kind of project that has a lasting effect, increases our quality of life and makes our community a better place to live,’ he said.
The feasibility study, at a cost of $39,000, will be complete in February. Then, site work can begin if the county chooses to move forward with the plan.
A rough cost estimate of the project by Russel totals anywhere between $500,000 and $700,000.
The boat ramp along the Ohio, which makes up the county’s entire southern border, is long overdue.