Kimball Park boat ramp plan hits snag

Kimball Park boat ramp plan hits snag

February 17th, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

Kimball, Tenn. officials have approved a project list for improvements at Kimball Park. Photo by Ryan Lewis

KIMBALL, Tenn. - Kimball officials' plan to fund the construction of a boat dock along the Tennessee River at Kimball Park has run into a wall.

The Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen intended to borrow $750,000 from the U.S, Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office to build the dock, but Mayor David Jackson announced recently that funding request has been denied.

"They've done golf courses and boat ramps in the past, but now they don't do any funding of that nature," Jackson said.

A couple of golf courses that were built using Rural Development grant money "went belly up," he said, and that has made the organization wary of lending money for recreational projects.

The initial cost estimate of $720,000 for the dock includes its construction, a two-acre lagoon, an access road from Kimball Park and a gravel parking lot, officials said.

"We've got a lot of people interested in it, and we're asked every day if we're going to do it," Jackson said. "We're going to have to look at some alternative funding if we're going to pursue this."

Initially, when city leaders were discussing the possibility of using a Rural Development grant to fund the project, Alderman Johnny Sisk said a boat dock would be nice, but there were other things the city should spend its money on.

"Not all of the citizens will use the boat dock, but they'll all pay for the boat dock," he said in December.

"I think it would be a great asset to have down there to draw people to Kimball," Jackson said. "People would be coming through to put their boats in [the river] and stopping to buy gas, food and stuff like that. But we do have to consider the financial status of the town."

The board plans to meet with Marion County financial adviser Tom McAnulty, senior vice president of Stephens Inc. in Nashville, on Feb. 28 to discuss the city's options for funding the project.

City Attorney Billy Gouger said McAnulty will not charge Kimball to explore funding alternatives.

Paul Johnson, an auditor with Johnson, Murphey & Wright, said in December that Kimball can afford to borrow the money given its current financial situation.

"It doesn't hurt to talk," Sisk said. "It doesn't hurt to ask."