Boat ramp rejection upsets Florida boaters

INDIALANTIC, Fla. – Officials in Indiatlantic, Fla. – a city in Brevard County on the Atlantic Coast – recently turned down a state proposal to build a public boat ramp in the town, angering many boaters in the area, Florida Today reported in a story this morning.

There is one boat ramp for every 1,100 registered boats in Brevard County, and that number doesn’t include the thousands of boaters who come over from other counties. There are currently 35 ramps at 15 locations countywide. A 1995 study said Brevard should add 60 ramps by 2005, but only one has been built since then and county officials said there’s only enough money for one or two more, the newspaper reported.

“I don’t think the town wants a boat ramp,” Town Manager Chris Chinault told Florida Today. “People don’t want it on the causeway. If you bring boats with trailers, you have to have some place to park them.”

Indiatlantic councilman Vince Benevente told the newspaper that residents didn’t want to see people parking all over the causeway, eroding the shoreline and snarling traffic.

“I’m not an advocate of putting a public ramp on the causeway,” Benevente said.

Shoreline erosion caused by roadside parking has been a longstanding concern for Benevente, according to Florida Today. He raised the same argument last year to stop people from launching kayaks and canoes from riverside parks, and two years ago to ban fishermen from parking on the causeway.

But Benevente doesn’t want a boat ramp anywhere else in Indialantic. Asked whether he’d consider another location, Benevente said, “Yeah, Melbourne.”

Rep. Mitch Needelman, R-Melbourne, who chairs the Environmental Regulation Committee, has been working with the Department of Environmental Protection to provide a boat ramp on the causeway. They’ve offered to build a public ramp on the western relief bridge. The state Department of Transportation already has built a ramp there for the town to launch its inflatable fire rescue boat, but it will be locked and gated for city use only.

“It would be great if the state can design and permit at that location,” County Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Nelson told Florida Today. “We certainly don’t have enough launch facilities at that location and the south end of the county.”

“There’s not a ramp around that doesn’t get pretty crowded, especially on weekends and holidays,” Nelson said.

Crowded conditions at a boat ramp in the area may have contributed to a woman’s death last summer (see story) when she was struck by lightning while waiting in line to dock during a storm.

“We need as many boat ramps as we can get,” Dallas Coombes, an avid fisherman and local businessman, told Florida Today.

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