STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — City officials have chosen to expand two existing boat ramp access points instead of building a new one in light of the eventual closure of the Lakeside Park ramp due to redevelopment on Lake Marble Falls.
Current boating access points are located in Lakeside Park, the Hays Addition on Lake Marble Falls, and Johnson Park on Backbone Creek, which feeds into the lake.
“The staff recommendation is to enhance the two remaining boat ramps — that being the Johnson Park boat ramp and Hays Addition boat ramp — for all the boat traffic,” Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Director Robert Moss said. “Based on the survey results, that basically showed that we had boat ramp availability that should accommodate the traffic from Lakeside.”
The boat ramp expansion and improvement projects are expected to begin Sept. 1, 2018.
The projects will be part of Phase 1A of a larger citywide parks improvement plan.
Improvements and/or additions include a proposed beach area and small open-air picnic pavilions as well as the removal of the tennis and basketball courts.
“That’s one of the reasons we built the (basketball) courts at Westside Park. We planned ahead,” Moss said. “We put lighting up on that court about two years ago.”
Marble Falls City Council has approved the overall parks plan but did not vote on the boat ramps proposal.
“Basically, staff was seeking concurrence from the council,” Moss said.
Other options regarding the boat ramp were the construction of a new scaled-down replacement ramp on the peninsula in an area where the lake and creek converge or the purchase of land elsewhere for a new public boat ramp.
“We had funding allocated for that. We had put a couple of hundred thousand dollars in the budget, albeit a scaled-down version,” Moss said. “That does allow us to utilize that funding elsewhere in the project.”
Design options for the two remaining ramps include expanding parking for pickups and trailers at Johnson Park and adding parking at the Hays Addition ramp, commonly referred to as the “exit ramp” for the annual LakeFest drag boat races.
“We may have to expand it some,” Moss said of Johnson Park parking for boat access. “More than anything, it will be a reconfiguration of what’s there so that traffic flow and parking are more organized.”
The Johnson Park ramp currently accommodates about eight pickups and trailers.
Hays Addition work could involve additional parking demarcations and other access features.
Moss said city staff is addressing any concerns from the community about current features, festivals, and events.
“There’s been some concern about the future of Walkway of Lights or the (LakeFest) boat races,” he said. “We will accommodate those events with the Phase 1A design. Walkway of Lights will not only be accommodated but probably even bigger and better.”
The city is expected to maintain an “event launch” for LakeFest and other community events “that require some sort of water access.”