By NICK WALTER
Anglers around Manatee County have no doubt been concerned with the upkeep of certain boat ramps, and anyone who has seen construction at the Braden River/S.R. 64 boat ramp knows something, finally, is being done.
The Manatee County Natural Resources Department has released a boat ramp status report that can be found at www.mymanatee.org.
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Not only does the report cover the 11 existing boat ramps, it also covers three proposed facilities: One on the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, another on the south shoreline of Palma Sola Bay and another by Manatee Memorial Hospital.
Here’s a quick summary and rundown of some of the corrective actions, according to this ramp report:
n 59th Street West/Warner’s Bayou Boat Ramp: Docks are expected to be replaced by 2011, although no renovations are planned.
n State Road 64/Braden River Boat Ramp: There had been a giant hole at the base of the skirt for awhile, the results of boat props digging into the bottom. Many anglers had expressed concerns over this dangerous ramp for some time. Maintenance crews began dredging the ramp area, ramp replacement and dock construction on Feb. 16. The Natural Resource Department and Florida Department of Corrections trustees will improve the parking lot and there will be 23 vehicle/trailer and eight passenger vehicle parking spaces. Construction is expected to take roughly another three or four months. The concrete ramp is finished, and the ramp will be open no later than mid-June.
n Palmetto Boat Ramp: There had been inadequate parking and inadequate docking and tie off at the end of the ramp adjacent to the eastern dock. Emergency repairs were completed in February.
n Kingfish Boat Ramp: Once the Property Management Department secures a lease from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), there will be renovations of a parking lot that fills early as well as trail construction. Seawalls and docks that need replaced or have shown wear will be replaced after the parking lot improvements. Prior to any of these improvements, a lease agreement with the FDOT must take place.
n Highland Shores Boat Ramp: Construction on replacing the boat ramp, seawall, docks, dredging of the boat basin and channel, installation of channel markers and reconfiguration of parking lots and designation of 16 vehicle/trailer spaces could commence this summer and will take about 180 days to complete.
n Jiggs Landing Boat Ramp: The ramp is failing, there is no permanent restroom, there’s limited parking, and no room for expansion is proposed. Improvements will include construction of a double lane ramp, docks, vehicle and trailer parking and a permanent restroom facility. The Natural Resources Department is working with the Property Management District on engineering and agency permits that are needed for these improvements.
There are proposed ramps at the Manatee Fruit Site off Cortex Road West, but a slowing economy has slowed Manatee Fruit’s plans to develop their property. Discussions with Manatee County on implementation of the ramp are on hold.
There is a conceptual site plan for a proposed site at the Skyway just past the south-side rest area. But the Department of Environmental Protection’s permit application was temporarily withdrawn because “the standard application was not adaptable to the scope and intent of the project,” according to the boat ramp report.
Although anglers possibly can never be fully satisfied with their boat ramp, and for good reason, remember that a slowing economy and lack of funds generally are at the heart of any implementation of improvements.
Nick Walter, outdoors writer, can be reached at 745-7013.