published Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Cost may sink Chattanooga boat dock proposal

by Cliff Hightower
Yusuf Hakeem
Yusuf Hakeem
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This story is featured in today's TimesFreePress newscast.

Should the city build more boat docks downtown?

The $10 million price tag of a proposal to build boat docks on the Tennessee River prompted Chattanooga's newest elected officials to back away from the plan for now.

Members of the Chattanooga City Council were set to discuss a resolution for the boat docks, but Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said the proposal was pulled from the agenda.

"There are questions about if that's the direction we would want to go," Hakeem said.

The resolution would have asked the city to seek a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which would have been combined with $8.8 million in city money for the dock construction.

Lacie Stone, spokeswoman for Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, said the administration requested the resolution be taken off the agenda.

"We want to review it further," she said.

Under the resolution, four boat docks would be built on the south side of the Tennessee River. The city proposed the docks be placed at Bluff View Furnace Historical Park, Ross' Landing, Olgiati Bridge and the Riverfront Parkway Marina.

A total of 44 boat slips could be built if the project is completed.

The previous administration proposed the project.

In a letter about the project, former Parks and Recreation officials wrote that current dockage is limited and located away from high-tourism areas.

Ken Smith, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said he cannot see any significant economic development return from the dock project.

"The only time I see boats down there is during festivals," he said.

Smith said he has constituents driving roads that are almost gravel, and he is hard pressed to support spending $8.8 million in city money for "big boats."

"I think the money could be spent on roads," he said.

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