[Source: Nathan Brutell, Today’s News-Herald]
State Parks officials announce Contact Point plan
Plans to build marina, boat launch could cost $20 million
It could cost more than $20 million to relieve the congestion at Lake Havasu State Park.
Arizona State Parks officials announced a proposed development plan for Contact Point Thursday evening at the Community Center to build a new marina, two six-lane public launch ramps, storage for more than 200 boats, parking for more than 1,000 vehicles and nearly a dozen other improvements. The park could cost “a minimum of $20 million,” said Renee Bahl, executive director of Arizona State Parks. Bahl added that State Parks officials plan to seek private funding for the park.
“This idea came about a long time ago, but it’s time to get it on the ground and get the discussion going,” Bahl said at the meeting, adding that initial discussions on Contact Point improvements began nearly 15 years ago. “Marina development in the Contact Point area is exactly what the people want and what the city needs for the local economic impact.”
Currently Contact Point, which is located southwest of Lake Havasu City and south of Thompson Bay, features little development, officials said. The Water Safety Center in Contact Point is at 1801 State Route 95, which is situated on the lakeside of the highway south of Body Beach.
Developing the Contact Point area would allow for more recreational opportunities, including proposed campgrounds, multi-use parks and picnic tables, and a riparian area (or refined ecosystem), officials said. But development also would accomplish a growing need to provide relief to Lake Havasu State Park.
“We know there is a great demand for access to the water on the south side of the city,” Bahl said. “You can just tell by the lines at Lake Havasu State Park waiting to get in, so there is obviously a demand for more access to the water.”
Lake Havasu State Park is Arizona’s most visited state park with more than 350,000 visitations in 2010, according to data provided by Arizona State Parks. Charlie Cassens, city manager for Lake Havasu City, agreed that relief is needed.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in the city that would object to (the development plans),” Cassens said. “Anyone who’s sat in line for more than an hour waiting to launch their boat knows we do need more access to the Lake.”
Contact Point is located just east of a proposed city plan nicknamed the “Havasu 280” project. The Bureau of Land Management recently completed an environmental assessment on the proposed Recreation and Public Purposes lease of 280 acres of public lands to Lake Havasu City. Development on the proposed Havasu 280 project is waiting for the completion of a national review process.
“(The Contact Point proposal) works in concert with the Havasu 280 project and the plans we have for the 280 with respect to public recreation,” Cassens said.
The two biggest hurdles in the way of the Contact Point plan will come in the form of financing and land acquisition, officials said.
“At the moment, State Parks does not have the financial resources to move forward with this,” said Ray Warriner, State Parks acquisition and planning manager. “We’ll more than likely have to take on a partner.”
Warriner said he’s currently working with state BLM officials on ensuring property and land rights on the project.
“It looks like for this property we may have to change our land rights,” Warriner said. “Right now we have deeded land and an R&PP lease and patented land. … It has to stay in a parks type of use.”
BLM Lake Havasu Field Manager Ramone McCoy said discussions on land rights would occur at the state level but also said BLM is “supportive of state parks.”
“A lot of what they’ve proposed (tonight) was in the original development plan, so we’ve already bought off on the plan,” McCoy said. “In order for them to put in a marina, they’re talking about a commercial lease, which would alter the current R&PP.”
Following the meeting, officials agreed that if the land acquisition and financing hurdles are overcome, development could begin on the project in one to five years.
“Before we can move forward with the plan, we need to make sure everyone is OK with the plan,” Warriner said.
Residents with questions and comments are asked to contact Arizona State Parks at www.AZStateParks.com. Information from the meeting, as well as maps of the proposed development plan, are set to go online in the next few days, officials said.
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