One of the most discussed items for fishermen and boaters this spring has been the Caesar Creek marina project. The lake levels were lowered to thirteen-feet below the normal winter pool to allow construction work in the lake for the marina. The plan called for the lake valves to be closed by the end of April. The work was completed slightly ahead of schedule and the valve closed on April 25.
The lake levels can be found online at the US Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District (http://lrlapps.lrl.usace.army.mil/wc/reports/lkreport.html). I found the Caesar Creek level just under eleven-feet below the normal summer pool on the May 4, 2015 report. It appears the lake has risen about two-feet in little over a week. While the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) plan project the lake to be full by the busy Memorial Day boating weekend, that is totally dependent on the amount of rainfall in May. If rainfall remains light boating will be impacted. Currently the best boat ramp to used for launching is the southern Wellman Boat Ramp.
Talking with fishermen around the lake a number of other questions about the project were discussed. I contacted Phil Miller, Deputy Chief Capital Improvements Administrator ODNR, Ohio State Parks and Preserves, to get the latest project status.
Phase 1 of the marina project will be completed in time for the opening of the 2016 boating season. Phase 1 includes the north marina area which is the boat docks, floating wave attenuator and fishing pier and personal watercraft docks. The total docks for Phase 1 is 120 slips. The public should be able to reserve dock slips sometime in late 2015. That information will be on the ODNR website. The plans show the marina building as included in Phase 1. This includes the harbormaster which houses the restrooms, concession area, showers and laundry facility. Other services include the gas dock and the pump out station for boats that have operational heads. There will be parking area added for the north marina. There should be no additional lake level impacts for the remaining marina construction.
The next major step is to develop a private partnership for the marina operations. The request for proposal should be released this summer. It will be available on the ODNR website. One of the frequently asked questions about the project is will there be alcohol available at the marina? Mr. Miller advised, “The state may allow the operator to serve alcohol in approved designated areas. The local operator will be responsible for obtaining any licensure associated with serving alcohol.”
Many fishermen seem to think the marina is not needed. Fishermen and recreational boaters have, for many years, become accustomed to having a full tank of fuel and necessary supplies before launching at the lake. How many of the typical fishermen or the day boaters will use the marina remains to be seen. Certainly the 120 slips will add flexibility for those boaters who do not wish to trailer their boat to the lake. There are often long lines at the launch ramp on busy weekends. Impaired boat operators, just as with automobile drivers, concern me. However beer has been available for many years at several gas stations and quick stops in the lake region. Whether you are dreading the marina for possible additional boat traffic or anxiously awaiting the convenience, the development is on schedule.