By Terry Rogers
On Monday, February 13, Milford City Council approved a plan for a floating kayak dock to be located in the Mispillion River next to Arena’s. The kayak dock is designed so that boaters using the river can dock, leave their boat and visit downtown merchants or restaurants. The dock will be large enough for pontoon boats as well as smaller watercraft.
“There is no cost to the City for this dock, which was mentioned as part of the Riverwalk Rebirth Downtown Master Plan,” Brad Dennehy, Director of Parks and Recreation, said. “Senator Gary Simpson has agreed to fund the entire project, which will cost about $72,000. The plan has been approved by DNREC and the Army Corps of Engineers as well.”
Eric Norenberg, City Manager, said that the project was fast-tracked as they wanted to have the project underway prior to March 1 due to American eel migration in the area where the dock will be located. Mr. Dennehy said that DNREC places a moratorium on pile driving in the Mispillion River from March 1 until May 15 due to the eel migration. Although he was hoping to get the project started by March 1, it may not begin until May 15 as all agreements are not in place nor materials ordered.
The American eel is the only freshwater eel found in North America. Mr. Dennehy said that the eel is an interesting species as it begins its life in the Sargasso Sea in the Bermuda Triangle region then drifts on the Gulf Stream up and down the East Coast and into the Mispillion River.
“We currently have a boat ramp and another kayak dock down river, so this will be a great addition,” Mr. Dennehy said. “The dock will be a dedicated kayak launch and gangway large enough for pontoon-sized boats to pull up. This will be a great addition to that area of the river where folks can paddle up to, disembark and go get something to eat or explore downtown.”
The kayak dock is part of the City’s efforts to encourage eco-tourism in Milford. Mr. Dennehy said that eco-tourism will showcase improvements made along the banks of the Mispillion, the greenway, Goat Island and even the Dog Park which can be seen from the river. He said it is a great way to see the strides and improvements the City has already made and will continue to make in the downtown area.
“There is nothing better than to meet some paddlers who are bringing their boats out of the water and hear how it is their first time in Milford,” Mr. Dennehy said. “We are hopeful that having another exit and entry point to the river will encourage them to stay and explore the town a little longer.”
Senator Simpson said that he felt the project was an excellent way to promote eco-tourism in Milford, which is why he agreed to fund the project. “When I was first approached about the funding of various transportation related projects in Milford, I thought the floating dock project was one that would benefit a great number of our citizens who enjoy kayaking and canoeing,” Senator Simpson said. “Additionaly, this project may provide the impetus that will draw eco-tourists to the natural beauty of our river and give our retail businesses a shot at increased sales.”
Council approved the plan for the floating dock with a five to zero vote.
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