CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — City leaders have drafted plans to reinvent Lakeside Park — including adding a hotel/conference center — which has hastened the potential relocation of a boat ramp to another area of Lake Marble Falls.
“What we may need to do for the future is put in a new, smaller boat ramp and maybe enhance the two other existing boat ramps that we have with a little bit more parking or better parking,” Mayor John Packer said.
A swath of land at Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, which includes a boat ramp, was deeded from the Texas Department of Transportation to the city of Marble Falls in October 2016, state records show.
TxDOT created the boat ramp at that location in the 1960s.
The state approved the October transfer of land, valued at $125,400, with the caveat that the city only would be liable for the cost if it removed the existing boat ramp amenity and failed to relocate it at equal or greater value, according to the memorandum of agreement.
Options could include relocation at city or potentially state-grant-assisted funding or paying TxDOT the cost of the tract and abandoning a future boat ramp project altogether.
“That could be an option; $125,000 is a heck of a lot cheaper than the cost to build a boat ramp,” Packer said. “But we’re not going to do that to the community. We’re not going to take away a boat ramp.”
Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel said city staff and parks and recreation leaders have launched talks into what might eventually be proposed to the city council.
“Is it (a potential new ramp) on the peninsula? Is it on Backbone Creek somewhere? Is it another place on the waterfront?” Kraenzel said. “It’s kind of limited; basically, everything from the bridge up toward Meadowlakes.”
Currently, the city maintains two other ramps — one on Backbone Creek that feeds into Lake Marble Falls and another about one-fourth of a mile from the Lakeside Park ramp.
The southern-most ramp is considered an “exit ramp” for competitors during the city’s largest event of the year: the LakeFest drag boat races.
Removing the newly acquired ramp at Lakeside Park would also impact that event because of its use by racers as a starting-line entryway.
The vision approved by city council members, outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan, has outweighed what uses the boat ramp amenity has provided in its current location.
“It’s connected to the hotel/conference center, but it’s also connected to the city’s downtown master plan, trying to tie in the Main Street environment to the park environment,” Kraenzel said. “Having a big parking area where boat traffic comes in is not really compatible with having a lot of people walking, doing events, and pedestrian amenities.
“To have it right there in the middle, maybe that’s not the best spot. So, where’s the best spot to move it to?” Kraenzel added.
Packer said officials are working to balance the needs of residents with plans to attract visitors to the waterfront and downtown area.
“Honestly, that boat ramp in Lakeside Park is not an easy boat ramp to use. It’s kind of steep, and there’s a drop-off,” said Packer, who is a boat owner. ”If you go in too far, your trailer wheels drop off of it.
“Anything that’s going to be built is going to be a better boat ramp with more modern standards,” Packer added. “The problem is there’s not a perfect location to put a boat ramp right now. We haven’t figured that out yet.”