MADISON, Ind. (February 2004) The Wharf Restaurant &
Lounge owner Gary Gillespie is reserved yet hopeful about receiving
a grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Manage-ment,
Office of Water Quality, that would allow him to build additional
transient boat dockage on the Ohio River. Gillespie expects notification
sometime this month, and if the grant is approved, he plans to begin
by Don Ward
Wharf restaurant in Madison.
The grant for which Gillespie applied falls under the federal governments
Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, or BIG P, as it is commonly
called. Authorized by Congress in 1998, the program relies on funds
from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and motorboat fuels.
Funds are awarded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and administered
at the state level by the IDEM-OWQ.
BIG P provides funding specifically for construction of facilities
that enhance boating for nontrailerable recreational boats,
those 26 feet or greater in length that are considered to be in transient
status (passing through or by a place, staying 10 days or less).
Projects typically eligible for BIG P include: slips for transient
boaters; mooring buoys; navigational aids limited specifically to
direct entry to transient, nontrailerable tie up facilities; safe
harbors for transients; and initial dredging only to provide transient
vessels with safe channel depths, according to the IDEM.
Currently, Gillespie can accommodate up to 30 boats at his location
on the river at 375 W. Vaughn Dr. If approved for the grant, he plans
to build about 20 additional slips as well as restroom and shower
facilities for boaters.
Gillespie said he has already taken construction bids from several
local barge manufacturing companies. He estimated that construction
would take two to three months. Ideally, the docks would be completed
in time for the upcoming boating season, or at least prior to the
Madison Regatta on July 3-4. We have a lot of transients during
that time, he said.
Madison festivals, such as the Regatta, Ribberfest and Chautauqua,
typically attract many recreational boaters to the riverfront. Ribberfest
coordinator Kathy Ayers said she noticed during last years festival
that many boats were pulled up where there wasnt a dock.
by Don Ward
dock at the Madison Ribberfest.
"In our particular festival, we want to encourage people to
come up on the yachts and the cabin cruisers, and to participate in
the festival from the river, said Ayers. I think it would
be more enticing if they could actually pull up to a dock.
The Wharfs dock is located close to Ribberfests Poplar
Street gate and would provide a convenient location for those arriving
by boat to enter the festival, said Ayers. She believes additional
dock space would be beneficial. Anything we can do to increase
tourism in Madison is a good idea, she added.
The Madison City Council agreed last year at its Sept. 2 meeting to
support Gillespies grant application and presented a letter
to that effect to the IDEM. The city has been more than fair,
said Gillespie, who was grateful for the citys backing.
We think that its really important to our riverfront development
and our tourism industry to have transient dockage located along Vaughn
Drive, Madison Mayor Al Huntington said in a January interview.
Anything we can do to help any business become better, and at
the same time to benefit the city of Madison, were going to
be at the forefront of helping make that happen.
Although supported by the city, Gillespies potential project
has raised some concerns for Rivercrest Marina owner Charles Spillman.
Spillman, who voiced his concerns at the City Councils September
meeting, argued that the city, which will lease to Gillespie the space
for additional dockage, will be in competition with his marina by
supporting the project.
Theyre simply going to take away business from us,
said Spillman, citing location as the Wharfs advantage. Rivercrest
Marina, located at 1200 W. Second St., is several blocks west of the
Vaughn Drive festival area. It is served, however, by the Madison
Trolley, which ferries boaters up to Main Street and other downtown
According to Spillman, his marina dedicates about 70 percent of its
space to transient boaters. The rest is leased for permanent dockage.
A lot of our business right now relates to transient (boaters),
said Spillman. He added that he doesnt see the need for additional
transient docking facilities in Madison. We dont fill
up as it is, he said.
Spillman was informed last September that the city would also endorse
his application if he chose to submit one. We were more than
happy to submit a letter of support for transient dockage or other
qualified expenditures that might be needed at his location,
Huntington had provided information about BIG P to Spillman, who
said he looked into the grant but found that it was too late to apply.
The deadline for applications was Sept. 1, according to IDEM grant
coordinator Julie Bye.
Although many projects fall under BIG P eligibility, the program is
not well known in Indiana. By last years deadline, said Bye,
only two business had applied, one of which was The Wharf. The other,
New Plaza Yacht Club in Evansville, Ind., is also expected to receive
the grant when the Fish & Wildlife Service officially releases
the funds. Under BIG P are two levels: Tier 1, which comprises an
annual maximum of $100,000 available to each applying state on a noncompetitive
basis; and Tier 2, the remainder of annual funding ($8 million less
whatever is awarded under Tier 1) that is available to applying states
on a competitive basis.
If approved for funding, Gillespie will pay up front for construction
cost and later will be reimbursed for 75 percent or up to $50,000
when the project is completed. Because most costs incurred prior to
federal approval are not eligible for funding, IDEM recommends that
construction not begin prior to official written notification. Bye
said she hopes to notify Gillespie of final approval no later than