Belhaven boat ramp back on county radar

Published 6:51 am Sunday, September 15, 2019






Washington Daily News


County commissioners are reviving the idea of a bigger public boat ramp in Belhaven.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted on a resolution encouraging North Carolina Wildlife Resources to revisit the project during the board’s July meeting. The boat ramp proposed would be built on county-owned property at the intersection of N.C. Highway 99 and West Main Street, known as the Cooperage Tract-Tillman property, a 40-acre waterfront property that some believe could have better uses.

“We got it for economic development,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson, during the meeting. “I mean, that’s we have this stuff, and we are diminishing the value to us, of this property considerably, by putting a boat ramp on it.”

The NCWF-constructed boat ramp was first proposed in 2016, after both parcels of land were donated to the county. However, Belhaven’s Board of Aldermen ultimately nixed the idea of a Cooperage Tract ramp in January 2017, after the plan was changed to put the ramp on the adjacent 7.5-acre Tillman property. However, the fact that there are working railroad tracks on the property meant a $500,000 additional cost to install signals and gates — a cost NCWF was not willing to pick up.

“We did all the design plans. We were working on public-private partnership, on that, and then that idea changed, and they said, ‘We don’t want to have anything to do with it,’” county Manager Brian Alligood explained in the July meeting.

The county is now returning to the original plan of a boat ramp on the Cooperage Tract with parking for 60-70 vehicles with trailers. Belhaven’s current boat ramp, located on Water Street, has parking for 30-35 vehicle with trailers. If the other ramp is constructed, the Water Street ramp would be modified as a kayak/canoe launch.

Alligood said it could be awhile before NCWF gets around to it, the town’s reversal on the project and the county’s willingness to take over general maintenance once the ramp is built.

“(Wildlife) had been given info from their director that due to budget cuts they are not in a construction mode, they are in a maintenance mode,” Alligood said. “But it’s an opportunity to go back to them and say we are now unified on that, if the board is, and resurrect all the work that had gone into that initially and see if they can move forward.”

Richardson said he was unable to support the county resolution because the property is one of few undeveloped waterfront properties that should be reserved for commercial development providing jobs.