MARCO ISLAND — Between a floating dock that doesn’t quite float properly at the Caxambas Boat Ramp and disappearing project status signs at the Collier Boulevard Boat Ramp, things are slightly amiss for the southern Collier County boating community.
In mid-September, one side of the Caxambas dock was partially underwater and the other side was aimed up to the sky.
Now, the area remains blocked off with caution tape and orange cones warning boaters and on-shore fishermen to stay clear.
“The boat dock modifications were not constructed wrong, however there was a design engineering flaw that created the problem not accounting appropriately for high tides,” said Clinton Perryman, project manager for Collier County’s Coast Zone Management Department.
Collier County officials reported earlier in the summer that both the Caxambas boat dock and the 951 boat ramp were to be open in October, however neither of them have reopened yet.
The Caxambas boat dock was part of an expansion project, which cost about $160,000, to address the demands from larger vessels wanting to access the fueling facility and also to provide safety measures and enhancements to the public for fishing from the piers, said Perryman.
The City of Marco Island also requested to have an emergency fire and police rescue vessel boat dock with a boat lift, he added.
The Caxambas boat ramp expansion, which began in May, will be repaired and re-opened by Nov. 16, contractors with Williams Brothers estimated.
Collier County Spokeswoman Camden Smith said the design consultant is covering the costs to repair the error. She added that it is being re-engineered.
The scheduled completion date for the 951 boat ramp remains murky after talking to Collier County officials. That project cost about $1.4 million and will quadruple the number of boat trailer parking spaces from 19 to 88.
The parking lanes will be 43 feet long with space to allow parking for a trailer carrying a 25-foot boat because studies revealed the average boat launched from the ramp was 23 feet, Perryman said.
He also reported that there will be three parallel, rather than diagonal spaces for larger boats.
The project is to fill a large demand for boat parking that was demonstrated each holiday and weekend as boat owners parked along the side of the busy road, having to cross the street without a crosswalk.
When the project is complete, Parks and Recreation Department rangers will ticket those parked along the roadway, Perryman has said.
The Eagle reported in August that the Collier Boulevard boat ramp parking expansion project was expected to be complete by Oct. 12.
Lit construction signs once updated those driving by of the project’s status. Then the sign changed to read that the boat ramp would re-open when complete. No other dates or details were on the sign.
Charter fishing captain Lisa Oliver, owner of Aquatic Excursions in Naples, said the lack of public boat ramps is a hindrance.
“I drove by (the 951 boat ramp) and had my boat with me this weekend. I see the sign ‘It will be open when we’re finished’ or something like that. I was like ‘well, that’s nice,’” Oliver recalled of a trip to the Marco and Ten Thousand Islands area.
She often steers clear of using the Caxambas boat ramp because it closes at 6 p.m. and if you have boat troubles, your vehicle and trailer will get locked in at night.
“Then what? You take a taxi all the way back to Naples and get it in the morning. That’s what happened to my brother (Matt Oliver),” she said.
Capt. Lisa Oliver is eager for the 5.2 acre Goodland Boat Park to open, which is slated for March 2010. She hopes the county will choose not to put locked gates on that boat ramp.
The Goodland Boat Park Project is estimated to cost $1.7 million and will include 75 boat trailer parking spaces, two boat ramps, and nearly 55 slips of varying sizes, including slips for law enforcement.
The construction contract was awarded to BCBE Construction Co., Inc. of Naples. Johnson Engineering of Naples was the design consultant for the construction which began in late spring.
Collier County has not yet released the hours of operation for the Goodland boat park.
As for the vague 951 boat ramp construction sign, it was gone Tuesday, but the 951 ramp isn’t open yet.
Smith said the signswere borrowed from the transportation department.
“The message board signs along 951 were removed from the site due to demands in connection with the H1N1 vaccination clinic traffic control, so now we’re attempting to locate other signs.”
While the Parks and Recreation Department seeks a new sign, the boating public is left to wonder when the public ramp will reopen.
“We’ve never provided an exact 951 completion date.”