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City of Port Neches outlines riverfront, boat ramp upgrades

PORT NECHES — The City of Port Neches is taking steps to revive, reconstruct and rehabilitate the riverfront.

The city council recently approved the final payment for the Riverfront Development street improvement project. Now, the city is adding rehabilitation of the existing boat ramp to the growing list of changes.

The RESTORE program grant, administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, is providing $550,000 to the project.

City Manager Andre Wimer said those funds are ultimately related to the BP oil spill.

“Dating back over a decade to the oil spill incident in the river, there has been some funds allocated to the city through the General Land Office due to the use of the city’s boat ramp for recovery and response efforts,” he said. “This (agenda) item would allow us to go ahead and approve the submission of the RESTORE program.”

The boat ramp only provides kayakers with a small stepladder to enter their boat. Next year’s project includes installing a mechanical launch. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $700,000 with the remaining $150,000 split between the General Land Office ($115,000) and city funds ($35,000).

Rehabilitation includes installing a new bulkhead, new decking, tie downs and replacing asphalt with concrete in the parking lot.

Public Works Director Taylor Shelton said it’s all tying into the new boardwalk project.

“The boat ramp is not just for the Port Neches community, but everyone,” Shelton said. “This is the only public boat ramp from Beaumont to Sabine Pass and it’s 30-plus years old and needs an upgrade, and that’s what we are going to do.”

The boat ramp’s old bulkhead is 30 years old and exhibits damage. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

A kayak launch is also a new addition coming to the boat ramp.

Shelton said it’s been a popular sport.

“Kayaking and fishing are upcoming sports,” he said. “Most people have to carry the kayak, set it in the water and try to get in it without flipping over, so we are going to have a mechanical device to make that process easier. You’ll bring (the kayak) down the dock, drop it in the device and it holds it in place while you get into it and then releases you.”

For avid kayakers like Jacob Osbourne, a mechanical launch would be a lifesaver.

“I launch all over Southeast Texas, as well as a lot of people from Sabine Kayak Cartel and Sabine Lake Fishing and Discussion pages on Facebook,” he said. “A mechanical launch would save a lot of work, time, and wear and tear on the kayaks.”

Shelton said while there is no defined work timeline at this moment, adding residents can expect to see work begin mid- to late 2021.