“We are very excited and pleased to announce this,” Mayor Rusty Jessup said.
Jessup said the council had been looking for waterfront property to purchase to provide a public park with lake access. After looking at several waterfront locations, the town entered negotiations to purchase the old D&S Marina, located along Depot Street across from Town Hall.
The marina property is a little less than two acres and includes three docks in need of repair, a convenience store, street-side and waterfront gas pumps, and more.
“We received a $99,500 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant toward the purchase of the marina, and the St. Clair County Commission helped with a big portion of the remainder of the $310,000 purchase price,” he said.
Jessup said the town also took out a capital improvement bond, which can also be used for the purchase and renovations. The town also recently signed a contract to apply for a $50,000 ADECA grant for renovations and construction to the marina, park property and restroom facilities.
“We plan to open the boat ramp as soon as the property is ours,” he said. “That will be the first thing we do. If all goes well, area residents will be able to use the boat ramp the next morning.”
Jessup said it is a public access boat ramp, with a $3 fee on the honesty system until the convenience store is up and running. Individuals may deposit the $3 fee in a box located near the boat ramp.
“We are also very excited about partnering with the Alabama Scenic River Trail,” he said.
Jessup said the Alabama Scenic River Trail is the longest one-state river trail in the nation.
“The Alabama Scenic River Trail has put together a trail that flows through the beautiful lands of Alabama and currently has over 631 miles of navigable river trails,” he said.
Jessup said the Riverside location will be designated on the Alabama Scenic River Trail maps as a camping area and jump off/on area.
“We recently met with representatives from the Alabama Scenic River Trail,” he said. “They particularly like our site because it is off the main channel in a deepwater slough, and because of its geographical location, as well as other reasons. Our facility’s location will be very attractive to tourists and international travelers because of our proximity to two major airports.”
Jessup said he thinks that opportunities for entrepreneurs will be available for kayak and canoe rentals, as well as camping gear, fishing gear, and river exploration clothing. The marina will have facilities including public bathrooms and showers, will have a store, will have fuel for both roadside and water sales, and will include a camping area and plenty of parking
“We are drawing up a master plan for the marina, and have a community meeting scheduled so local residents can give us their input on how the marina should look,” he said.
The community meeting is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, at Riverside Town Hall.
“We hope our residents will attend the meeting and share their ideas for the marina,” he said. “This is something our community needs, and we are looking forward to offering area residents a beautiful park and lake access.”