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Parks officials to push for Coonskin boat dock

By Rusty Marks, Staff writer

Kanawha County parks officials will ask that a boat dock be included near the site of a new bridge that's being built into Coonskin Park.

In June of 2012, Charleston Gazette Editor Jim Haught asked members of the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission if they would consider putting in a parking area and boat launch along the Elk River for families to launch canoes and kayaks.

Although there is already a canoe and kayak ramp in Coonskin near the park clubhouse, and a boat ramp across the Elk River, Haught said those launching points are steep and difficult to use.

Parks officials proposed adding a boat launching area in conjunction with a new bridge being built across the Elk River to allow closing off park access from Coonskin Drive. Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin in July.

Members of the county parks board agreed to talk to state officials about the idea once the new bridge is built. Construction of a parking area and boat launch near the bridge would require cooperation between the bridge contractor, officials for the state Division of Highways and Division of Natural Resources.

Now that bridge construction is ready to start, the subject of the boat dock has come back up. County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said he didn’t know whether state officials would go along with a new boat dock, since there are already two boat ramps in the area, but would talk with the contractor and state officials about the idea.

Bret Preston, assistant chief of warmwater fisheries for the DNR, said Wednesday there have been no formal discussions about adding a new boat dock in Coonskin. But he said it wasn’t a bad idea.

“It has been kicked around internally by us,” Preston said. Even with two boat slides already in the area, “The potential is there for better access. The Elk is a high priority for public access, especially at the lower end,” he said.

Preston said DNR officials would be willing to talk to state highways officials about a new boat dock.

Division of Highways spokeswoman Carrie Bly said highways officials have not been approached about incorporating a boat dock into the construction of the new bridge. But she said highways officials are willing to talk about it.

“We'll certainly consider it,” she said. “We just need to see a plan first.”

Reach Rusty Marks at

rustymarks@wvgazette.com

or 304-348-1215.


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