Plans to construct a concrete boat ramp at Pepper Branch Park have sunk.
In 2019, the city’s Tourism Development Board applied for, and was awarded, a $75,000 Tourism Enhancement Grant with plans to construct a concrete boat ramp at Pepper Branch Park. The grant was written and submitted by TDB administrator Mandy Eller.
McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord informed members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee on Tuesday that a boat ramp was a wonderful idea, but a review of the area with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has determined the area is better off with a kayak launch.
“In going down there and talking with TWRA, it was determined that a boat ramp down there would not be feasible since it’s mostly for kayaks,” said McCord. “In partnering with TWRA, which wants to get more involved and get more people on the water, they came up with a new plan.”
Suggested was a concrete kayak launch.
“Pads would be constructed,” said McCord. “Kayaks will fit in between the pads. People would then sit in the kayaks and launch off from there.”
While other communities have similar kayak launches made of wood, Pepper Branch Park is prone to flooding and concrete was proposed as a better option.
The project would also include construction of sidewalks and concrete parking to make the area ADA compliant, as well as measures to ease the erosion issues along the river.
As a cost-saving measure, TWRA has offered to supply the manpower to construct the launch.
“We have reached out to the grant administrators and they have said TWRA can do the work,” said McCord. “TWRA said it would donate its labor at no cost to the city. All we would be doing is paying for materials and accessories. The grant is for $75,000. The city’s match, which is already in the budget, is 10 percent.”
Materials are estimated to be $69,000.
Mayor Ben Newman asked if the development would hinder people from accessing the area and entering the water without using the kayak launch.
“No,” said McCord. “The idea is to keep that main area open.”
Parks and Recreation Committee members unanimously approved the proposed design plan and improvements to Pepper Branch Park.