Thursday, June 13

Boaters unhappy with Sandsprit Park boat ramp updates

Boaters in Stuart told WPTV they’re concerned about the new boat ramps that opened in Sandsprit Park.

The east side of the park was closed all summer long for renovations. On Friday, officials reopened the ramps to the public, and closed down the west side boat ramps Monday for similar renovations.

Boaters told WPTV the new ramps in appearance are great.

They look good,” Chris Kite said.

I thought it looks great,” added Tim Kick.

“They do, theyre beautiful ramps,” said Santana White, captain of FL Lunkers Fishing Charters.

Yet despite the sharp appearance, the boaters said the new ramps are much harder to use, and eliminate their access to the water from both sides of the park.

We got stuck on the ramp going half way down, couldnt even get out,” Kick said. “So, we said, ‘heck with it,’ and it scraped all the way down.”

Kick, and the others, said the problem is three-fold. For one, they said, the ramp feels like a much steeper incline, which makes boats and trailers bottom out.

With longer trailers, once they get up past this pitch and it flattens out,” White said, “their trailers start to bottom out.”

They said the second and third problem has to do with the walkways, which White feels are too far out from the parking lot and two high up from the water.

For someone like me with a smaller boat, theres no way I could launch here correctly,” White said.

Boater J.J. Klarman told WPTV he felt the boat ramp updates would cut off access for 40% of the county’s boaters that use Sandsprit Park.

Martin County Public Works Director George Dzama said there’s a reason why they were designed that way.

To mitigate against some of those higher tides weve been experiencing and will experience in the future,” Dzama said.

Dzama said during king tides and significant rain events, the water would flood out the walkways on the old boat ramps. The new ramps have eliminated that problem.

He also said the incline was only minimally changed, and is still within the normal range, which is between 12% and 15% of an incline. He said Sandsprit Park’s boat ramp is a 14% incline.

He also said the project isn’t over yet. While the east side of the park has been completed, the west side isn’t expected to be finished until February.

“And we’re able to apply a little bit of a different geometry for the west ramps to hopefully accommodate,” Dzama said.

In the meantime, those on the water told WPTV they appreciate the county making the improvements, but hope the future boat ramps are better suited for their boats.

I mean we have recreational, we have commercial,” White said, “and what I’ve been seeing here within the last five to 10 minutes of being here is people having difficulty launching their boats.”

The improvement project is a more than a $2 million investment, the majority of which is made up of grant money.

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