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Letter to the editor: Co-op project a bad idea
Letter to the Editor generic


I am very disappointed by your passive coverage and failure to adequately inform the public regarding the Bryan County Commission’s plan to purchase the Bryan Fisherman’s Co-op property and develop a boat ramp. I emailed your publisher asking that our local newspaper publish information to inform the public about this project; my email was not acknowledged.

I understand that many citizens want a boat ramp and more access to local waters.

However, I do not think the public is aware of the estimated costs of this project. I hope that most citizens would agree with me that this particular boat ramp is not in the best interests of the taxpayers for the following reasons:

 -This 23-acre property, of which 14 acres is designated as wetlands per the county tax assessment, is valued by our tax appraiser at $1.95 million or $86 thousand per acre and $217 thousand per highland acre. The county contracted several months ago to pay $3.5 million or $152 thousand per acre and $389 thousand per highland acre. The due diligence period on this contract has been extended until October. I understand that a minimal price reduction has been negotiated recently.

-Based upon prior uses, including major boat repairs, and the common practices during that period of time, it is highly probable that significant environmental contamination exists which will require clean-up at taxpayer expense. Several hundred feet of dilapidated, creosote docks must be removed.

All environmental cleanup should be completed by the present owner; this burden should not be shifted to the taxpayers of Bryan County.

-This tract has no water and sewer treatment available, which results in the estimated expenditure of almost $500 thousand, an exorbitant amount for a project of this size and concept, to install a well, water distribution and a septic tank with extensive drain field. I doubt that private developers would be approved by the county to install a septic tank.

-It is my understanding that a new DNR facility is included in the preliminary plan. However, I understand that there are no firm financial commitments from DNR for funding of this facility or the development costs. -The current total estimated costs of approximately $14.5 million, including land acquisition, demolition of existing hazards, and development costs for boat ramps, parking areas, and two bathroom ”huts”, plus the unknown additional costs which are quite likely significant, is totally unreasonable. These costs do not include several million for repair and repaving of Fisherman’s Coop Road. I believe the total cost will be $17-20 million, plus interest on bonds to finance the project.

-The resulting boat ramp is located too far from open waters and adversely impacts sensitive properties downstream toward Kilkenny. Skipper Narrows, above the site, is a shallow, treacherous pass, particularly for inexperienced boaters. This hazard should not be ignored.

-This project is inequitable to the taxpayers, not only because the costs are excessive, but because a relatively small percentage of the taxpayers are boat owners/boaters. It is particularly inequitable to taxpayers in the northern portion of Bryan County, where an even lower percentage are active boaters.

-Much of the benefit derived from this boat ramp will be realized by non-residents who pay no taxes in Bryan County. Their contributions, via user fees (if any are charged), sales taxes, etc., cannot possibly justify an investment of this magnitude.

Given the above, I sincerely believe that this project should be abandoned.

Additional water access could be provided to our community at a fraction of the estimated costs of developing this inferior property. The county should negotiate an agreement with DNR to expand the existing Demeries Creek boat ramp and create organized, functional parking on that property. The county should negotiate a similar agreement for expansion of the Ft. McAllister ramp. Then, our community would have two excellent water access points in more appropriate locations that can be completed much more quickly and at reasonable costs.

I have asked the commission to seek broad input on this project after fully informing the public of the scope and costs. Taxpayers should contact all county commissioners now to express their views on this project and, hopefully, convince our representatives to stop this excessively expensive project before it burdens our community financially for decades into the future.


Mike Odom, Richmond Hill

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