Confirmed: No Ferry, No Bridge, No Boat Ramp
Moriah Peterson, story and photos:
There was a great turnout Thursday evening June 28, 2018 at the public library for the meeting hosted by the National Park Service to discuss a range of options for the Houchin Ferry site.
According to documents distributed by the park, the ferry will not be restored, a bridge will not be built, and there will not be a boat ramp. During the meeting, concepts were displayed around the room for viewing and for questions.
In the documents, the NPS explained reasons for dismissing the three most popular suggestions from locals:
Concept A is an “existing conditions” concept. This concept is used as a way to evaluate the effects of concepts B, C, and D. It can also help determine why NPS, along with the public may believe changes need to be made. This concept would involve continued use of the south side of the river; the north side would only have the existing vehicular turn-around space. River access would remain unchanged and the overnight and day use facilities would be maintained in their current configurations.
Concept B is designed to balance day and overnight use. Concept B’s south side would include twenty-two parking spaces, six campsites, two accessible spaces, six trailer spaces, more picnic shelters in addition to what is there currently, an emergency boat launch, a canoe/kayak launch, and a trail to an overlook. The south side would have a turnaround for vehicles, a trail leading to an overlook with picnic tables, and no improvements to the existing ramp.
Concept C is designed to maximize the overnight use of the site. It is documented that concept C will include eighteen parking spaces and one accessible space. Camping will consist of thirteen campsites and six trailer spaces. This concept will also include a trail to pedestrian bridge, canoe/kayak launch, emergency boat launch, and a medium sized picnic shelter. The south side will have a turnaround and parking for vehicles and trailers, a trail leading to pedestrian bridge and picnic tables. There will also be a kayak/canoe launch and three campsites with a porta john.
Concept D is planned to maximize day use and would convert all existing campsites into picnic areas and there will be additional small/medium sized shelters. Parking spaces would be increased to thirty-two with two accessible spaces. Six trailer spaces, a trail to an overlook, an emergency boat ramp and a canoe/kayak launch are also part of concept D. The south side will have a vehicle turnaround and parking, a canoe/ kayak launch, along with a trail leading to an overlook with picnic tables and porta john.
Mark Kinzer, the project manager, was able to give insight for the Houchin Ferry Timeline. He said in six to eight weeks after public feedback is received, a second document will be released. Fifteen to twenty-- after its release another meeting will be held for more public feedback. Once comments are collected, a decision from the Regional Director of the Southeastern National Park Service will be made and then the funding process will begin. Mr. Kinzer is part of the regional office in Atlanta but is in Kentucky for planning.
Mammoth Cave Superintendent Barclay C. Trimble stated “This is the kickoff stage, we are looking to receive feedback from the community to see what the public wants. Houchin Ferry is a gem in the park, we want to give it the TLC it needs and address the current deficiencies there due to the lowering river levels. We are thrilled to see such a great turnout here tonight.”