The District of Houston is seeking alternatives after most of its grant applications for the Bymac Park boat launch replacement, approved by council earlier this year as a 2019 project, were denied.
Due to the lack of funding commitments, the district is short $206,000 in funding to complete the project, said Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s chief administrative officer, in a report to council last week.
Meanwhile the park’s current boat launch remains unusable.
Silt buildup has rendered the boat launch inaccessible to vehicle use, said Pinchbeck, adding district staff continue to receive complaints about the site.
At a July 2 regular meeting, council decided to defer the project indefinitely and to dredge the existing boat launch using operational funding.
But while dredging the boat launch might satisfy the short-term needs of users, the best long-term solution remains to replace it in a more suitable location, said Pinchbeck, noting district staff have been unable to identify a grant program that can support the project.
To improve the district’s chances of securing funding, Pinchbeck said the primary driver of the project must be economic development, with clear economic goals such as revenue generation.
That’s why district staff recommended council expand the park’s campground from 10 to 25 sites — equipped with potable water, power hook-ups and an on-site volunteer caretaker for fee collection — in addition to the boat launch replacement.
Last week council authorized staff to pursue 100,000 in grant funding to support the design and feasibility study for the proposed 25-site campground and boat launch replacement.
Funding under this Rural Dividend Fund program provides up to 80 per cent of the project’s budget, said. Pinchbeck, with no limitation on the maximum grant awarded.
Upon receipt of the feasibility study, Pinchbeck said funding for the project could be pursued through the Northern Development Initiative Trust, and that construction would likely occur in the summer of 2021.
While district staff do not have an estimate for the project’s new cost, they anticipate it would likely exceed the existing budget of $261,000.
If funding is not forthcoming, however, Pinchbeck said in his report the best alternative would be to cancel the project.