Jarett Myers of Paradise Marine in Gulf Shores said many a boat used to utilize the boat launch at the old Wolf Bay Lodge restaurant on the north end of Wolf Bay, and were headed to the Gulf.
“We used to do most of our deliveries at Wolf Bay [Lodge] at that boat launch,” Myers said. “As the years went on we started to see so many Paradise trailers for people who now started using that launch on the weekends.”
The County Commission entered a $7.5 million purchase agreement for the property earlier this month and is trying to get Gov. Kay Ivey to release money from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Securities Act leases to build a boat launch west of the Foley Beach Express toll bridge. Part of the process is getting letters of support from local city governments, which Commissioner Chris Elliott said they have received or are close to finalizing.
“Foley passed one and the matter will also be taken up by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach,” Elliott said. “We anticipate support from the mayor of Mobile and the Mobile County Commission to show support across coastal Alabama.”
When it came time for the county to pass a letter of support it passed 3-1, with lame duck Commissioner Frank Burt voting against the letter.
“Most folks with boats wanted a launch where they could get out into the Gulf and go further out to fish,” Burt said. “They may enjoy going out in the canal, but if you look at the distance before they enter the Gulf — it’s quite a distance.”
Myers of Paradise says the traverse is one his customers had been making for years before the fire at Wolf Bay Lodge and the loss of access to that launch. From the Foley Beach Express, the Gulf is roughly 12 nautical miles to the east at Perdido Pass, or 28 nautical miles to the west at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
“That launch would be about the same distance coming all the way out of Wolf Bay versus coming from the bridge,” Myers said. “I don’t see that being an issue at all. We had people launching at Wolf Bay all the time to go and use their boats around the [Perdido] pass.”
Perdido Pass is a popular spot for boats to congregate and traffic there keeps the Alabama Marine Police busy during the summer season and on unseasonably warm fall and winter days.
“The increase in any kind of traffic down here is going to add to the problems we are already having,” Sgt. Jody Kelly of the Alabama Marine Police post said. “It is a problem right now that they don’t have enough boat ramps in this area for them to have access to the waterways, but the more access we provide them the more people that will be here. It’s already pretty crowded.”
County Commissioner Skip Gruber has been in favor of another boat launch on the south end of the county for years but has struggled to find the right spot. He believes the county has finally found it.
“There’s no property anywhere else that people are willing to sell,” Gruber said. “And we don’t want to put a boat launch in the middle of a community. This is the ideal place.”
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