ARCADIA — No major changes are on the horizon for boat ramp access in DeSoto County due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the ramps will remain open despite the closing of parks, the library and other facilities throughout the county.

“I don’t think we need to close the boat ramps,” County Commissioner Elton Langford told the Sun. “People have got to have something to do — take your family out on the boat or take the kids fishing. Unless a real good health reason arises, I don’t see us closing the boat ramps.”

County Commissioner J.C. Deriso said that the boat ramps should be able to remain open as long as people don’t congregate in large parties on sandbars or riverbanks.

Access to the Brownville boat ramp at 1885 N.E. Brownville St., Arcadia, however, will be shut down since the ramp lies within the park, which is closed off by gates, according to County Spokesperson Tara Poulton.

Amenities at the boat ramps, such as bathrooms, will be closed.

Because of coronavirus, some Southwest Florida counties have considered closing boat ramps. Charlotte County opted to close their boat ramps and parks, but reversed their decision Tuesday. Sarasota County has not closed its ramps.

Boat Ramp Upgrades

At the DeSoto County Commission meeting Tuesday, commissioners approved two separate applications for the Florida Boating Improvement Program Grant for fix-ups at the Sunnybreeze boat ramp at Liverpool Park, 9211 Liverpool Road, and for a new boat ramp to be constructed at the DeSoto Veterans Memorial Park, 2195 N.W. American Legion Drive.

The current boat ramp at Liverpool Park in Sunnybreeze has fallen into disrepair over the years.

“This (grant would be) to improve boating and dock access at Liverpool Park,” Tara Anderson, county parks and recreation director, said at the meeting.

The grant would afford the first phase of the project which would include the design engineering and permitting of the project. The current single-wide boat ramp at the park is badly deteriorating and the concrete is cracking, according to Anderson.

“The current fixed-wooden dock is approximately 13 years old and beginning to require more maintenance each year,” Anderson said. “A new, preferably floating dock, has been requested by many patrons as this dock with its boat ladders are very steep and depending upon the tides can be difficult to load and unload passengers for vessels … this is not an efficient or easily accessible dock.”

The county is also eyeing a new dock at DeSoto Veterans Memorial Park.

“This is to improve boating access,” Anderson said. “Phase one is near completion of the design, engineering and permitting (for the project).”

Phase one for the new ramp was also funded through a FBIP grant, according to Anderson.

“Applying for phase two would be the construction of a single, double-wide ramp with a concrete floating dock in the center,” Anderson said.

Anderson said a paved parking lot with a connecting sidewalk, among other features, are also being considered for this project.

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