The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on Thursday released the news that the agency, in cooperation with the city of Chattanooga, "has been awarded a grant to build or extend dockage at four prominent locations along the downtown south shore of the Tennessee River." However, City Council members earlier expressed concern about the $8.7 million cost of the required city match and pulled the item from a previous agenda.
The TWRA said the project would include the installation of up to 10 slips for transient, non-trailerable vessels at each location.
The grant is being made available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program. The Chattanooga project was one of the 16 sites for the competitive grant as announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it was stated.
TWRA said, "The project has received $1,285,868 and the city of Chattanooga will provide a percentage match toward this grant, embarking upon the necessary refurbishment of Ross’s Landing. An additional $65,000 from the same program has been received and committed to the Chattanooga project.
“This is one of many projects that TWRA is involved that promotes tourism and increases the economy of the state and local governments,” said Ed Carter, TWRA executive director. “We are very pleased to be involved in a project of this stature and in cooperation with the city of Chattanooga.”
He said the city of Chattanooga Parks and Recreation administration’s "successful efforts to seek funding for the additional boat slips will have an immediate impact and increase tourism by the transient boating community. In 2012 alone, the Chattanooga Marina hosted more than 1,000 customers, including the popular fleet titled, Loopers.
"The transient boating community helps generate an estimated $1 million economic impact to the Chattanooga economy yearly. The successfully funded slips will facilitate and help fulfill the high demand for transient dockage during the ever expanding events on Chattanooga’s waterfront.
“The Boating Infrastructure Grant program is one of the many ways we support access and provide quality outdoor opportunities for Tennessee’s recreational anglers and boaters. These projects also support major construction projects, creating jobs and providing much-needed economic benefits.”
Funding for the BIG program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. It is supported by excise taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuels.
The project, worked out by the previous administration, includes installing 44 non-trailerable transient boat docks at four prominent locations downtown in a $10.7 million project.
City officials earlier said the aim is to make Chattanooga "a highly desirable transient boating destination."
The City Council had been scheduled to vote on applying for the $1,350,868 grant. Then it was pulled from the agenda after council members noted the city portion of the project was listed at $8,784,870.
Officials earlier said the city funding has been approved in the 2013 Parks and Recreation Department capital budget. Under the new Andy Berke administration, Parks and Rec was folded into the new department of Youth and Family Development headed by Lurone Jennings.
Prior city officials said, "The city of Chattanooga’s Riverfront Parkway Project BIG application seeks to meet the broad objective of enhancing the Downtown Chattanooga Riverfront, located along the southern portion of the Tennessee River into a highly desirable transient boating destination.
"To achieve this goal, the city will use the referenced grant funds to build or extend guest dockage at four prominent locations along the downtown south shore of the Tennessee River, namely the Bluff Furnace Historical Park, Ross’s Landing, the Olgiati Bridge, and the Riverfront Parkway Marina for the proposed placement of a total of 44 transient boat slips.
"The city of Chattanooga maintains a consistently strong tourism industry, but is unable to allow visitors and residents to fully utilize its primary historical attraction; the Tennessee River. The currently available dockage is very limited and is located far from the high tourism shore areas:
"1. Bluff View Dock - publically owned; 6 horizontal tie-ups
"2. Olgiati Bridge Dock - publically owned; 4 horizontal tie-ups
"1. Marine Max - leased marina (long term leases)
"The need for transient dockage has been identified through local community interest, usage rates during large regional and national riverfront events, and identification in the architectural study ‘Ross’s Landing Park Improvements’, by Jones and Jones (March 2012)."