Riverwalk on deck this summer

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Earle May Boat Basin, perhaps Bainbridge’s best-known park area, is home to a variety of recreational activities and attractions, such as the annual River Town Days festival.

With both the Boat Basin and Cheney Griffin Park, the site of an old steamboat landing, located next to the Flint River, lauded by many as one of Bainbridge’s biggest assets, it’s only natural that city officials have been focusing on enhancing the two parks for public use in recent years.

Some of that work, which first was discussed at the Bainbridge City Council’s 2006 annual retreat, has already been realized. One example is the city-run marina which, although on the opposite side of the river from the Boat Basin, offers boat slips, food and drinks and gasoline. Long-desired public basketball courts were put in last year as part of the third phase of sports fields at the Bill Reynolds Sports Park, located near the Boat Basin off Cox Avenue.

Other ideas included in a waterfront connectivity master plan developed by the Genesis Group of Tallahassee, Fla., have been discussed but have unknown futures, such as a skate park once planned at Cheney Griffin Park.

But city officials are still making active progress on other ideas, such as a riverwalk between Cheney Griffin Park and the nature trail area behind the Boat Basin.

Construction on the riverwalk should begin around July 1 of this year, said Deputy City Manager Dustin Dowdy. The project, which the city is receiving partial state government funding to help complete, is still in the preliminary design phase.

Dowdy also noted the project start date could be affected other factors such as weather and the time it takes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — which leases the Boat Basin, Hatcher Road and Cheney Griffin Park to the city government — to review and approve specific plans for the riverwalk.

The trail could be used by people walking, running or using a non-motorized vehicle such as a bicycle. Benches, light fixtures and fishing piers would be placed along the trail, Dowdy said.

Another piece of the Boat Basin’s master plan would be to build a wildlife/nature educational center and outdoor classroom. Those facilities, which are still just in the conceptual phase, would be located directly east of where the bypass crosses over Hatcher Road, Dowdy said.