According to a news release Tuesday, the Baldwin County Commission has secured a roughly 18-acre property on County Road 6 in Bon Secour for a new boat launch, “as part of their commitment to provide increased recreational opportunities and access to waterways.”
Plans for the property include preservation of coastal wetlands, a boat launch, parking and additional parkland for trails and future recreational opportunities. Once construction of the boat launch is complete, residents and visitors will be able to launch boats, kayaks, canoes or other watercraft into Bon Secour River. The purchase of this property also ensures the protection of many live oaks that provide shade and other benefits to the overall ecosystem.
The county reportedly purchased the property from Robert O’Donnell for $2 million.
Separately, on Jan. 5, the commission authorized Chairman Joe Davis to enter into agreements with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to use grant funds from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), for public access improvements at the future boat launch on the Intracoastal Waterway. There, the county was previously awarded $7.5 million to purchase 45 acres just south of the Baldwin Beach Express toll bridge, where it intends to develop approximately six boat launches, fish and staging piers, gazebos, a wharf area, restrooms and associated parking.
The action approved last week will pave the way for $2.6 million of a separate GOMESA grant to be put toward construction costs.
In its justification for the grant, the county argued population growth has placed “significant pressure on providing for public spaces to recreate and access our natural resources and waterways in a safe and controlled manner. As private development is rapidly capturing the available waterfrontage, we are seeing increased demand for secure, high-quality public park space and boater access to the Intracoastal Waterway Canal, Mobile Bay, Perdido Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. With the recent closure of a private boat launch, the remaining accesses are overwhelmed and do not provide the infrastructure necessary to safely accommodate boaters. It is the purpose of the county government to provide for public safety and to protect our natural resources while providing for their best and highest use to the public good.”
At the County Commission meeting Jan. 5, County Engineer Joey Nunnally said the county is currently going through the permitting phase with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Advertising for bids should begin in February and once the contracts are awarded, construction should begin around May.
Nunnally said the total cost of construction will likely be in the neighborhood of $5.2 million. In Bon Secour, the timeline is eight to 12 months for permitting and another four to five months for construction.
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