REEDSPORT -- City officials have received documents to prepare for bidding on an almost $2 million boat launch project.

"The new design includes a new and wider boat launch ramp, docks and debris deflectors," said City Administrative Assistant/Recorder Deanna Schafer. "The parking will be completely reconfigured with concrete curbs, islands, sidewalks and a storm water treatment system."

Recreationalists will also have a new Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible restroom and fish cleaning station.

The area sits in a 100-year flood plain and she said a new ramp will add $25,000 to the cost, "but it's worth it because of the flood plain."

"With this new design, they'll be up above the flood plain. It looks like 18 inches to two feet maybe," Schafer said.

The entire project will take two years.

"November is the in water work. November to January," she said.

Bid work will replace the docks, the boom and ramp.

Schafer emphasized that city officials are planning work so that it doesn't interfere with next summer's fishing season.

The area, located along the Umpqua River by the Umpqua Discovery Center, continues to be popular with boaters.

"This site is used by approximately 10,000 launches a year," Schafer said.

Work consists of three projects, which are:

  • in water efforts such as improving the boat ramp;
  • a new bathroom, new parking area and storm drain system for upland work
  • and the last phase "will really be the fish station and restroom."

"Currently the facilities are over 20 years old," she emphasized. "The facility has reached its useful life and needs to be upgraded to comply with both ADA and environmental concerns. The current parking area consists of asphalt, concrete and rock areas with uneven surfaces and other potentially unsafe conditions."

The timeline

City plans for improving and replacing structures didn't happen overnight.

Schafer explained that laborers built the original site on fill in the 1940s, which composed part of the Old Town development.

The city has owned the boat launch property since 1985.

Workers extended the boat launch and built docks and the boardwalk between 1991 and 1995. City money and Oregon State Marine Board funds made this a reality.

In 2007, city officials contacted OSMB representatives to get more help, specifically improving the facility and expanding the boat launch parking area. Schafer said although city crews tried their best to maintain the entire boat launch area, "weather and age have become an issue and complaints from the public began to be logged at both the local and state level."

"The OSMB has provided funding during the previous (legislative) biennium to purchase a piece of property that bisected the parking area, which was a pivotal piece in pursuing future improvements," said Schafer, who applies each year for a number of grants on city projects. The structure was owned by Knife River Corporation. She's worked closely with City Manager Jonathan Wright on the boat launch grant improvements.

This past November, Marine Board personnel awarded a $450,000 facilities grant, allowing city employees to purchase dock, ramps and debris boom materials.

Partners in the funding

Schafer thanked various funding partners, including the Marine Board.

"And the Port of Umpqua and the chamber really stepped up," she said.

The city will also receive $51,000 from the Oregon State Parks Department in September.

"I still have a grant out but it's not been approved yet," she said of the state parks department.

The current parking lot will be resurfaced and she said "we have to put storm drains in now."

"The parking area will be completely reconfigured with concrete curbs, islands, sidewalks and a storm water treatment system," the administrative assistant said.

The current boat launch is narrow and a challenge for boaters when they're backing their trailers down it. Workers will remove abandoned pilings to help fishermen and other recreationalists better navigate.

"What we want to have is easing the congestion in the boat launch area," Schafer emphasized, adding that the dock surface will be skid resistant "so the ease of getting in will be a lot better than it is now."

In a mix of more grant funding, city personnel received a grant to pay for dock repairs in the last legislative biennium until docks could be replaced. Then city workers will salvage dock parts when they're replaced to use at the Bumblebee boat launch, which the city also owns. Bumblebee is about half a mile down the river from the Rainbow Plaza launch project.

Marine Board employees worked on two conceptual designs and presented them to city personnel in 2009. The first part consisted of buying property that the Knife River Corporation owned. The purchase finished in 2014 and laborers tore down an existing building there.

Parking pass funds and urban renewal money contributed to the majority of the city's match.

Normally city personnel, regardless of a community, have to match 20 to 25 percent of what a state/federal agency provides. However Reedsport officials were able to cooperate with Fred Wahl Marine Company to mitigate any losses in the boat launch area when workers excavate for the boat launch. This composed part of Fred Wahl's Bolon Island expansion.

Employees from the Division of State Lands, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "all had to sign off on this project." Because the boat launch will be widened, city employees had to make sure the river's soft bottom habitat of clams, sand shrimp and other species were protected.

"It took two years to complete the permitting and the mitigation," Schafer said.

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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Umpqua Post Editor