Chesterfield boat rally held against planned closure of Dutch Gap boat ramp

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 11:36 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - It was supposed to be a Boat Rally that drew out hundreds of concerned Chesterfield boaters, but the rally’s organizer, Phil Lohr, with Chesterfield Citizens United, says they made up for the lack in numbers with the signature of more than 30 boaters expressing their distaste with the county and Dominion Energy over plans to close the Dutch Gap Boat Ramp.

“We haven’t talked with few or any voters that support that decision,” said Lohr.

The reason for the planned closure has to do with safely removing the coal ash waste from the Dominion facilities located near the boat ramp.

In a statement, Dominion Energy says it’s actively planning to safely remove nearly 15 million cubic yards of coal ash from its lower and upper coal ash facilities under state and federal rules. It is working to finalize transportation with Chesterfield County officials that will provide a framework for managing access around the nearby recreation and historic park areas and its site.

The company adds that it needs the roads and waterways as clear as possible to safely transport the coal ash without interference from boating or car traffic.

In response, they are also working with Chesterfield County to replace the boat ramp with a location near Falling Creek.

Render of the proposed boat ramp relocation near Falling Creek.
Render of the proposed boat ramp relocation near Falling Creek.(Chesterfield County)

Currently, the preliminary design for the Falling Creek boat ramp location is for a 3-ramp powerboat facility with additional canoe and kayak launches in the future.

At this time, the county says it’s still working out the details on the project and is looking at multiple access and design options, adding that it would be premature to comment any further on the new boat ramp.

But Lohr says the county and Dominion didn’t properly notify boaters of the decision and that the proposed relocation does not adequately serve the more than 7,100 boaters in Chesterfield.

“It will only make access easier for 22 percent of boaters. The other 78 percent of boater access and convenience would be much safer coming down 288 and getting off on Route 10,” he said.

Lohr says he wants the county to look into the possibility of relocating the boat ramp to Presqile Island near Bermuda Hundred Road further downriver from the current Dutch location with a boat ramp the size of the Osborne Boat Landing.

“We really want a downriver boat ramp. We want a boat ramp like Osborne with six launch areas and at least 100 parking areas where you can safely and conveniently enjoy the water," said Lohr.

The county is aware of concerns and has met with area residents and boaters to work on identifying additional options for the future.

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