Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Because Who Wants to Boat on Dry Land?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Because Who Wants to Boat on Dry Land?

Article excerpt

Work is progressing on a new Blackburn Point Park launch. To many a vexed boater, it's long overdue.


Boaters say they are all too familiar with the scene: It's a sunny morning and they pull up to one of Sarasota County's boat launches, family in tow, ready to hit the water -- only to find a packed parking lot and long waits.

They hope a new power boat launch under construction at Blackburn Point Park will ease the traffic jams.

The launch is one of several long-awaited improvements to the park, along with a new kayak launch, piers, a playground and trails. The first phase of additions, which includes the power boat ramp, will cost $3.9 million to construct. County officials anticipate it will be finished by January.

This will be the first power boat launch that Sarasota County has added in more than 15 years, said George Tatge, manager of beaches and water access parks.

Boaters say it's past due.

As of April 1, there were 19,326 registered boats in Sarasota County, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Many owners keep those vessels in their yards or a lot. They depend on the 11 public ramps that the county operates, which are often packed.

"You have to wait in line to get your boat in," said Julie McGarr, commander of the Venice Sail and Power Squadron. "I think anyone in the boating organization will say, 'Yes, we need one more.'"

Sarasota County's public launches also have to accommodate boaters from Arcadia, Lakewood Ranch and Myakka City, Sarasota Power and Sail Squadron Instructor A. Andre Spalvins said.

"These ramps are for people who live east of (Interstate) 75 and they are taking their day off to go boating," Spalvins said. They want as much time on the water as possible, he said, and this park will help take some of the pressure off crowded launches.

As the economy turns around, organizations are starting to see an increase in power boaters, McGarr said, and access to the water will be increasingly important. …

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