$17 million park and boat ramp in Orange Beach set to open in April
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – There are only a few weeks of work left on Baldwin County’s first boat launch. The $17 million park on the Intracoastal Waterway in Orange Beach will simply be called The Launch, but there’s nothing simple about it.
With six boat ramps capable of launching the largest towed boats and the ability to park nearly 200 vehicles with trailers, Baldwin County boaters are ready for when it opens.
“You have all kinds of people…people who live here, people who come to visit us. Congestion at the boat launch is a big problem,” said Baldwin County resident and fisherman Joe Arredondo. “People step back, go in, step back.”
The construction of the site is almost complete. The bathroom modules have just arrived and are being plumbed. The Grand Pavilion rises. The additional paving, landscaping, and lighting still needs to be done, and the park sign isn’t there yet. County Engineer Joey Nunnally said everything was still scheduled to end soon.
“Our goal is to have it all done by the end of the month,” Nunnally said. “We had a meeting with the contractor this morning and he thinks it’s a very doable thing.”
The project was funded by the state’s share of oil and gas lease revenues paid to the federal government by the energy companies. Revenues from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Securities Act (GOMESA) have increased significantly in recent years. Alabama‘s share has grown from just $200,000 a few years ago to nearly $42 million in 2021.
Alabama State Senator Chris Elliott, with the support of State Rep. Chip Brown, pushed through a bill that would ensure these funds continue to flow in full to the counties of Mobile and Baldwin each year.
“There was some bargaining, but I’m glad my colleagues are joining us and recognizing the importance that the Alabama coast plays in the state’s economy and how important it is to keep these thirty-five to forty million dollars, every year, to Mobile and Baldwin County so it doesn’t go anywhere else in the state,” Elliott explained.
This bill is now law. Governor Kay Ivey approved it on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
So when will the launch open? A formal groundbreaking ceremony is tentatively scheduled for mid to late April, according to Governor Ivey’s schedule. Baldwin County officials only said the facility will open to the public in April 2022.
Copyright 2022 WALA. All rights reserved.