BRADENTON -- Work crews are slated to begin scaled-down renovations to the Warner's Bayou boat ramp on Jan. 7, closing it for four months, county officials said Friday.
The project is expected to lengthen the life span and functionality of the popular facility, and reduce yearly maintenance needs, they said.
The boat ramp, floating dock and fixed docks will be replaced and upgraded.
Renovation plans, which were scaled down after a public outcry last summer, also include:
n New grassy storm water runoff treatment areas around the perimeter of existing parking lots; the parking lot itself will not be paved. Parking spaces for the handicapped will be added.
n A new restroom building will be built on the north side of the ramp. The restrooms will have time-con
trolled doors, restricting after-hours access.
n A new fish cleaning station will replace the old station in its current location, but will not be attached to the restroom.
n No pavilions will be built.
n No vendors will be at the site.
After residents and boaters complained about a more complex plan originally proposed, county officials held three summertime workshops and scaled down plans for the aging boat ramp at 5900 Riverview Blvd.
They also scaled down the cost, from $728,600 to $490,000, according to Nick Azzara, county information outreach coordinator.
Money for the project comes from Manatee County's Boating Improvement Fund and the West Coast Inland Navigation District, Azzara said.
Duncan Dock and Seawall is slated to do waterside improvements; a bid for the land-side work has not yet been awarded, he said.
Sue Kinnan, who lives near the boat ramp and led her neighbors in opposition to the county's original plan, reserved judgment Friday about the latest design.
"I have to look at the latest documents because they might have changed their plans," said Kinnan. "We felt good about the progress we made. Commissioner (John) Chappie was certainly very helpful and fair to everyone, but we still have to look at everything and make a determination about it."
During the closure, boaters may use alternatives, such as Kingfish boat ramp, at 752 Manatee Ave. W., Holmes Beach; the Palma Sola Causeway ramp, 9000 Manatee Ave. W.; or the Riverside Park ramp, 833 Riverside Drive, Palmetto.
Alan Lai Hipp, Manatee County marine resources coordinator, said that the ramp closes on a Monday morning so boaters may use the ramp during the prior weekend.
"Warner's Bayou is a very popular boat launch, and we'd like boaters to know that the inconvenience of the closure is something that we are keenly aware of," Lai Hipp said. "We hope local boaters will understand the need for these improvements and are patient as the renovations are performed."
For information, visit the website www.mymanatee.org or call 941-748-4501.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.