Gaining Access

Riverfront Development group
pushing for Madison boat dock

They say boaters, businesses
would benefit from access

By Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(August 2012) – “What a pretty town. Why don’t we stop for lunch?”
It’s easy to imagine boaters engaging in this conversation as they sail along the Ohio River near Madison, Ind. The problem? All docks are full. So they move along to another area.
Madison loses not only the day’s business but also the future business of these patrons who might return after experiencing the delights of downtown. The solution? The Madison Riverfront Development Committee offers its answer – a new city boat dock.

Boats Docked

File photo by Don Ward

During festival weekends, boaters
visiting Madison have had to beach
their crafts on the sandy shore
because there is no dock space
available to handle the crowd.

Committee member John Bruns has begun discussions with city leaders, dock builders and others to advance a proposal for a new 100-foot city boat dock. The new dock would accommodate six to 10 boats, depending on size, and would offer short-term parking facilities to boaters so they can debark to enjoy all the attractions of Madison. Committee members envision the average docking time to be from two to four hours – long enough to do a little shopping and grab a bite to eat at any of the downtown restaurants.
Should boaters want to stay longer, they simply pay a small fee for overnight privileges. The committee has proposed posting an honor box asking boaters to pay a fee for any stay longer than four hours.
Jim Pruett, committee president, notes that other areas have had great success with this system. “Boaters are happy to have parking facilities and willingly pay the fees. These fees would help offset the cost of maintaining the dock,” he says.
In addition to parking facilities, the proposal also includes the option for a dumping station so boaters could empty their tanks at the dock. Boaters would pay for this service, creating another source of revenue to help offset the cost of the dock and ensure its maintenance.
Maintenance of the current dock offers one of the biggest challenges and creates the greatest need for a new dock, they say, because city crews who are often unfamiliar with the intricacies of maintaining boat docks are charged with the maintenance duties. Further, the design of the current dock simply can’t serve current boat traffic. The dock accommodates only a couple of boats at a time. This causes long lines for boaters trying to enter the Ohio River from Madison. Further, the dock offers no parking facilities for boats coming up the Ohio River to Madison. Finally, the dock closes whenever the river reaches peak heights and the ramp is underwater.
The new dock would offer quicker access to the river through its accommodation of more boats. Up to 10 boats would be able to park at the dock at any given time. The design would allow for the dock to rise with the river, meaning the dock would be accessible virtually any time boaters desire. Bruns hopes that the agreement for building the dock would include a provision for the builders to work with city crews to help crews know how to carry out the maintenance. The builder would also oversee and plan for long-term maintenance of the dock to ensure the best facility.
Bruns readily notes that other facilities currently offer boaters docking ability – both through the Madison Lighthouse Restaurant and Rivercrest Marina. In discussing the proposal, he quickly adds that he does not want to take anything away from these facilities who serve boaters so well. Rather, the committee and city officials have noticed that more facilities are needed to accommodate river traffic. They simply want to provide sufficient facilities to accommodate all boaters and to welcome them into Madison for the benefit of everyone.
Money for the new dock would likely come from a grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. That grant proposal is in the very early stages. Pruett said he would love to fill a current vacancy on the committee with someone who specializes in grant writing. “They don’t even have to join the committee,” he says. “We just need someone with the expertise at grant writing to help us pursue funding.”
“Boaters flock to Madison,” says Pruett. “We want to offer the necessary means for them to be able to get off the boat and come into town. With the dock, they can park their boat, walk along Main Street and grab a sandwich. The dock will benefit them as well as the downtown merchants.”
The Riverfront Development Committee wants boaters to know that “the welcome mat is out,” Pruett said. Members believe a new dock would send that message.

Back to August 2012 Articles.



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