Work begins soon on Patriot Boat Ramp

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Right now, there’s grass growing on top of the Patriot Boat Ramp.

But life will soon be returning as work begins in the next couple of weeks on replacing it.

Force Construction of Columbus, Indiana, was awarded the bid by the Commissioners at a meeting earlier this month. A pre-construction meeting was held Tuesday morning with major construction slated to be completed by September 15th and the project completed October 15th, according to Dan Back, project manager.

The Boat Ramp had been abandoned many years ago after the function of the Corps of Engineers was changed by the government. “When Markland Dam was put in, there were a series of boat docks put in,” he said , but Corps of Engineers responsibility became solely navigation and they discontinued working on recreation. Eventually, as the ramp deteriorated over time, the ramp was “filled in and became totally unusable,” he said.

The deserted Boat Ramp took on life when Patriot resident George Miller took the initiative and “got the ball rolling” with the project, said Dan Back. “He did the groundwork in getting it donated to the county.” The boat ramp was donated to the county in 2007 from the Federal Lands to Park Program that was administered through the National Park Service with the stipulation it be developed for public usage as a park.

Eventually, the Patriot-Posey Park Board got involved and Dan Back was selected as the person to oversee the project. Before they could begin the project, they needed permits approved from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Corps of Engineers and Indiana Department of Environmental Management. “It’s going to be a really nice place to put a boat out,” said Dan Back, the project manager and the engineer for the project. It’s particularly significant because there are no fully public boat docks in Switzerland County. He said Bryants Creek only has fishing boats, the Vevay ramp is only good for smaller and certain types of boats, and the Florence ramp is private.

“Right now we have a lot of fishermen pass by Switzerland County, but not a one stop in the county and spend any money because we don’t have any land access” for a boat, he said.

The boat ramp will open up Patriot for fishing tournaments and more, Dan Back said. “Three years ago, Rising Sun had a catfish tournament that brought in 200 fishermen,” he said.

The first phase of the boat ramp project will involve construction of the boat ramp, a courtesy dock and blacktopping of the parking lot. Force Construction’s bid for the boat dock was $479,966.96 while the bid for the courtesy dock being $69,807.80.

The second phase will include a picnic pavilion, walking trail and nature area, and Dan Back is hopeful funding will come available through various other resources. “Once the ramp is in place and the parking lot is paved it should be a whole lot easier” to generate money to complete the project, he said. The Town of Patriot has agreed to construct one of the two picnic shelters that will be built.

“It’s taken a lot of work” to make it happen, said Dan Back, but all that effort has paid off. “It’s really going to be a nice area,” he said.