published Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Winchester eyes marina on Tims Ford Lake

The city of Winchester, Tenn., is hoping to revive a plan to build a marina on Tims Ford Reservoir to encourage tourism, recreation and economic development.
The city of Winchester, Tenn., is hoping to revive a plan to build a marina on Tims Ford Reservoir to encourage tourism, recreation and economic development.
Photo by Robin Rudd.

DRY CREEK MARINA PROJECT

Phase 1 minimum requirements:

• Public boat launching ramp

• Minimum of 100 boat slips for rental

• Restaurant

• Retails sales area

• Minimum of 10 convenience piers for visiting boats

• Fuel dock and gas facility for boats

• Public restrooms

• Floating breakwater, if required

Source: Winchester city government

Officials in Winchester, Tenn., are reviving a decades-old plan for a city-owned marina on Tims Ford Lake in Franklin County.

The multimillion-dollar marina will have at least 100 boat slips, a restaurant, fuel dock and retail stores on the easternmost end of the lake, City Administrator Beth Rhoton said.

"The big picture is some cabins, a campground, a marina, and there's quite a bit of land there that whoever does the project could sublease some things for something like a boat facility," Rhoton said. The project area is almost 100 acres and already has utility services.

But a lease with a developer first will have to pass muster with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rhoton said.

A draft request for proposals from developers was finalized last week to go before the City Council. Officials hope to get requests for proposals returned by the last week of April or the first week of May.

The marina developer and operator will have to sign a lease with the city and get construction approval from the Tennessee Valley Authority, she said.

The idea for a marina goes back to the 1980s, Rhoton said. The city received the property through an assessment around 2004. The first attempt at development started in 2006, but that relationship dissolved when the economy crashed. TVA and the state assigned the property to the city in anticipation of a new marina.

Officials in the planning process looked at city-owned marinas in the Alabama towns of Decatur and Florence for ideas, Rhoton said.

Winchester officials see the project as a tool for economic development and a boost to recreation. The marina will also provide a much-needed gas stop for boats on the eastern end of the lake.

Winchester City Councilman Bruce Spencer said the marina should create a downtown destination for local people and visitors.

"I think it's a really good idea for the growth of our city," Spencer said. "We have gone through redevelopment of downtown Winchester, and this will help us continue the growth."

A marina at Dry Creek will "bring people into Winchester not only by automobile on the roadways but by boat on the lake," he said.

Tims Ford Guide Service owner and guide Kevin Roland, 45, spends about four days a week on the lake and said the area could use another marina because the others are several miles away from Winchester on the water.

"I think if they had a marina on that end of the lake, I believe it would draw business to the town," Roland said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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