BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Rumors circulating that the city’s new marina project will come with a ramp fee have been quashed.
Fort Madison City Councilman Tom Schulz said Thursday that he’d been contacted by several residents who said they were hearing that the entities running the new marina were going to charge a fee to use the ramp.
“I confirmed today that that was untrue,” Schulz wrote in a text to Pen City Current.
Schulz said federal and other grants that are being applied for to help with the cost of the project would actually prohibit a charge to the general public for access to the ramp.
Schulz said he didn’t know where the rumor got started but wanted to address it quickly with Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, who confirmed the rumor to be untrue.
The new marina project got a boost last week from Fort Madison Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission in a pledge to commit $1.5 million over 5 years if the city was able to assemble the project as it had been laid out.
The city of Fort Madison has committed $1.5 million to the project, but SIRRC officials have said the city will need to match that groups money with other private/public investments to trigger its 5-year support.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also upped it’s commitment to the project after Public Works Director Mark Bousselot went to work on showing how the value of increased flood mitigation and dredging efforts in the marina could show a bigger return on the federal investment.
Mohrfeld said FEMA’s contribution now could be close to $1 million and would include a four-foot dredge of the marina. That work is set to begin at the end of the summer.
That phase of the project would also involve removing all current docks. Those would be replaced with close to 100 brand new docks, with about half being covered.
Other initial work would be creating a recreational pier out of the current jetty wall that extends further into the river and more upstream to help keep silt from drifting back in against the natural flow of the river. The pier would be built up and out of the 100 year flood plain to help reduce the majority of the silting in the marina that occurs during flooding.
Dock fees and a percentage of sales at the new hospitality center, planned as new construction, would pay for maintenance and future dredging as needed.
The city will own the marina, but will lease the property through a public/private partnership for operations.