BY OLIVIA CAMERON – Back in 2018, when the land at the Placida boat ramp was freshly acquired, the Charlotte County Commission gave the go-ahead on a proposed project to expand the public access ramp. The ramp, located just off Placida Road, has been a popular visitation spot for boaters to access the Gulf of Mexico, Boca Grande Pass and Gasparilla Sound.
The project is designed to provide an additional boat ramp to the popular access point by utilizing the property adjacent to the existing ramp. The design consists of a two-lane boat ramp, kayak launch, 75 shell and grass overflow parking spaces, asphalt ADA parking and a restroom facility.
In the two years since the $6.9 million development plan became the talk of the town, Project Manager Travis Perdue has continued to oversee its progression.
“This project is a Tier two 2014 Sales Tax project,” Perdue said. “The sales tax revenue has to reach a certain level to trigger discussion by the Board of County Commissioners. Once all Tier 2 projects have been prioritized, the Board votes on what projects to move forward with. At that point the funding is approved, sometimes over two- or three-fiscal-year cycles, and the planning can begin.
“Being that the project impacts jurisdiction of several state and federal agencies, the permitting will be the biggest impact to the schedule of the design.” The design phase cost a whopping $598,340.
The status of the expansion project is in the data collection period now that site analysis and survey drafts have been completed. Since mid-August, the plan to move forward with the process has involved a public survey concept.
“Since we are in a pandemic, the County is working on a way to gather public/citizen input for the project,” said Perdue. “It will include a survey to be taken online and the dates for a Facebook live presentation event that citizens can attend and ask any questions they may have. The full scope of the project will be better defined after the assessment of existing conditions can be surveyed and the input from the community can be gathered.”
The survey will assess the utilization and visitation of the boat ramp site. Those who fill out the survey will anonymously be asked how far a drive the ramp is from their location, what amenities they wish to prioritize and more, to generate opinionated responses and get a feel for the community’s stance on the project.
The completion of the project is expected to be in mid-March of 2022.
“We currently have an engineer and construction manager on board and are looking to complete the project late in 2022, pending the permitting requirements.”
Just last week, a visitor reported spotting Border Patrol personnel at the site. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, this is nothing new. An employee with the Tampa office explained that these ramp checks are nothing other than ordinary inspections.
As season approaches, the Placida boat ramp parking lot will start to overflow. Charlotte County currently offers excess parking west of the intersection of Placida Road and Boca Grande Causeway. To pay for parking, boaters can download an app or purchase passes on Charlotte County’s official website.
To fill out the public survey, pay for parking or learn more about the project, visit charlottecountyfl.gov.