City council halts plans for downtown boat docks
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Plans to make downtown Chattanooga more boater-friendly are on hold, at least for now.
The previous administration hoped to make the waterfront a destination not only during festivals like Riverbend.
But this week, newly elected officials got a look at the price tag. And, they say, it is money that could be better spent.
"It would allow us to accommodate a lot more boaters and bring a lot more people in by water," says Scott Manning.
Scott Manning hoped downtown Chattanooga would soon be home to a handful of new boat docks.
His business, Marine Max, currently manages the city's only waterfront dock.
"We do have a lot of out-of-town boaters," Manning says. "They come, they visit with us. They stay long term. We have a lot of local boaters that would come down and call this home, because downtown is a wonderful place to be."
Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration proposed seeking a $1.8 million grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build four docks.
They would be built at Bluff View Furnace Historical Park, Ross' Landing, the Olgiati Bridge and the Riverfront Parkway Marina.
"Everything had signs of moving forward," says Manning.
That is until this week, when the newly-elected administration and city council got a look at what city taxpayers would owe: $8.8 million.
"We do feel it needs more vetting to see how it benefits our community," says Council chairman Yusuf Hakeem.
"If we're going to offer four times what our annual budget is for roads for something like that, I think we need to take another look at where we are spending our money," says Councilman Ken Smith.
Ken Smith, who chairs the public works department, says the money is better spent.
"I would have probably stepped back as well and taken the whole picture in," says Manning.
Manning understands city leaders taking a step back. But he hopes the project will eventually move forward.
"I have a couple of friends who might be interested in something like that," says Lassie Letson. "It would be great for the city and the economy here."
Council members say it has to be for the right price.
They say the deal isn't dead, but they want to be sure they are using taxpayer dollars wisely.
"I do see it coming back," says Hakeem.
The original proposal was taken off Tuesday night's agenda.
Council members say the idea isn't completely dead. They may consider a modified version.
A timeline has not been set for when they will vote on the measure.