Duck Creek ramps it up

Published 8:40 am Friday, August 6, 2010

Staff Writer

Boaters, hunters, kayakers and other sportsmen of Beaufort County, your calls have been answered.
A new public-access boat ramp is becoming a reality at Duck Creek off Hawkins Beach Road.
Construction began at the site Thursday when officials from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and PotashCorp took the first scoop of dirt at a ceremonial groundbreaking. The work will begin in earnest Monday when bulldozers and backhoes arrive to clear the site.
Strategically situated between Washington and Bath, the new ramp is expected to alleviate the nautical rush hours at Havens Gardens in Washington and the water-access ramp in Bath. When complete, the six-acre tract of land will have two boat-launch lanes with a floating dock between and parking for 30 to 35 vehicles and trailers.
The project, spearheaded by WRC Commissioner Mitch St. Clair, was the direct result of a partnership with the PotashCorp, which donated the land. PotashCorp, which owns 1,700 acres on the north side of the Pamlico River, had been leasing the property to the Weyerhaeuser Co. In exchange for the donation, the commission reimbursed PotashCorp for the $25,171 it paid Weyerhaeuser to prematurely break the lease on that plot.
“We got a lot of calls from friends and associates who said, ‘Look, Wildlife needs to do something for Bath,” St. Clair said. “Representative (Arthur) Williams, he was on Wildlife for a while, and they were telling him the same thing. So when I got on Wildlife and he moved on up to the House, he talked to me and said, ‘Look, we need to do something for the Bath area. They need a boat ramp.’”
“So, here we are today, with a dream come true and all the neighbors are happy, everybody’s tickled,” St. Clair added. “I’m very excited that I was able to finally get a boat ramp in the Bath area, something that has been needed for so long.”
PotashCorp representatives on hand for the groundbreaking were pleased with the future prospects for the property.
“Everything’s gone very nicely, and I’m personally excited about this,” said Curtis Brown, former land supervisor with PotashCorp. “This is going to be a great asset to the state of North Carolina and the people around here.”
“We’re Beaufort County’s largest private employer,” said PotashCorp public affairs manager Michelle Vaught. “With that, we know there’s a lot of responsibility that goes with that, and we’re committed to eastern North Carolina. We think this boat access will be a tremendous asset to the citizens of the region.”
As with any real-estate deal, the secret to this one was location, location, location.
“This is a good location,” said Erik Christofferson, division chief of engineering services at the commission. “It’s right in between two of our other access areas. So, it’s a good location, it’s good water access. So, we thought it was a real-good location. That’s why we were really interested in getting the property.”
Officials hope to have the ramp open within the year.