Ravenswood moves forward with Phase 1 for marina, next stop: Mussel study

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Mayor Josh Miller (right) looks at a mussel David Foltz (right) brought in so City Council could learn more about the mussel study.

RAVENSWOOD — An emergency bid for a mussel study between Sandy Creek and the banks of the Ohio River for the marina project will go out later this week. Ravenswood City Council hopes to award the bid at the next meeting so it can officially break ground on the marina before the end of 2021. 

This roughly $75,000 decision comes after the Department of Fish and Wildlife told the city it couldn't have a partial mussel study at Sandy Creek the Phase 1 area of the marina project. Instead, the city needs a study for the whole marina site even though a start date for phases 2 and 3 hasn't been determined. 

More:Wastewater upgrade details presented at Ravenswood City Council meeting

More:Miller excited about future of Ravenswood

The city will issue the emergency bid request later this week, Miller said, with a goal of awarding it at the Aug. 3 council meeting. David Foltz, a project manager for Edge Engineering and Science, which was the company that picked up the bid for the Sandy Creek site mussel study, brought a Piggly Wiggly bag filled with mussels for council members to see Tuesday.

Edge Engineering and Science picked up the initial bid to study the Sandy Creek area. They may or may not continue with the study depending on who picks up the emergency bid, but Miller said, "It's not like we've got people knocking down the doors for mussel studies."

Foltz said as long as they don't find endangered mussels like sheepnoses or fanshells, the project should be smooth sailing. These mussels are on the state's endangered species list

Miller said Ravenswood City has about $1 million set aside in the general government fund to put toward the marina project, specifically the mussel study and the Sandy Creek site. This money has accumulated from the city's budget surplus from the past four years, Miller said. 

The mayor said he's determined to finish the Sandy Creek site by the end of the year. This will include a parking lot, boat and kayak launches, and campsites along the creek. If the project doesn't go according to plan, he hopes to have at least the parking lot done by the end of 2021. 

Bob Newell, owner of R.D. Newell & Associates, is the consultant for the marina project. At Tuesday's meeting, Newell reported that the archeological study for the marina began earlier this week.

Once this study is complete, the state's Historic Preservation Office has 30 days to review the findings. Hopefully, Newell said, by the end of the review period a parking lot will be installed at Sandy Creek. 

Phase 2 of the marina project includes adding a bridge and zip line from the Ravenswood Development Authority to the riverfront park. Phase 3 is dedicated to an amphitheater, boat docks and a fueling station on the Ohio River behind the park. 

Miller proposed the marina project to city council eight months ago. He's adamant about Ravenswood embracing its river town identity, and he said the marina will "rival the Kaiser era," referring to the Kaiser Aluminum Plant that closed its doors in 2009. 

"This will be the biggest economic driver that Ravenswood and Jackson County has seen in the last 50 to 60 years," Miller said. "I believe in this downtown and I believe in this project."

— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.