Boaters Still Complaining About Problem Boat Launch - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/06/04

Boaters Still Complaining About Problem Boat Launch

The Department of Marine Resources helped oversee the re-building of the Forrest Avenue fishing pier and boat launch after they were destroyed by Hurricane Georges.

While the new fishing pier is fine, there's long been a problem with the boat ramp on Biloxi's Back Bay.

WLOX News first reported the trouble nearly three years ago, along with promises to fix the problem.

The boat launch at Biloxi's Small Craft harbor is often busy. But the same can't be said for the Forrest Avenue boat ramp. It may look fine, but boaters know better.

"Well, it was a waste of money. Whoever designed it obviously never owned a boat. By the time you put your boat in, your vehicle is halfway in the water," said boat owner, Charlie Punzo.

WLOX News first reported that problem nearly three years ago. We also told you about DMR's plans to fix the ramp. So far, nothing.

"I see people using it, so it is a useable launch, but it's difficult to use. It's too shallow and we know it needs to be deepened," said DMR director, Dr. Bill Walker.

He's reminded of the problem everyday. You see, the Forrest Avenue ramp is located right behind DMR headquarters. Like many projects, lack of money is holding up repairs.

"We have a three year quote of about 65 thousand dollars, so it's probably going to be more than that now, somewhere in the 75 thousand dollar range. And we're working with the city of Biloxi to try and find those dollars to get that ramp renovated," Walker said.

Many boaters who might otherwise use the Forrest Avenue boat ramp, instead come to the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, where the angle of the boat ramp is what it's supposed to be.

Charlie Punzo would certainly prefer to launch at Forrest Avenue.

"I live right around the corner . Sure I'd use it. It's less than a block from my house. But by the time you back your boat up and try to get it off the trailer, you've got water in your floorboards," he said.

The DMR director says if the agency can work out a funding plan with the City of Biloxi, the repair work could begin later this year. If not, the agency will have to take its funding request to the state legislature, delaying the work for at least another year.

By Steve Phillips

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