The Indian Creek boat ramp in Eastpoint is now open for public use.

The refurbishing of the ramp, which ran about $629,000 including engineering and construction costs, is one of six recreational use projects for the county that make up Phase III Early Restoration Projects selected by the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees for restoring natural resources and services injured or lost as a result in Florida caused by the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

"The department is always looking for opportunities to partner with local communities on projects to enhance the use and enjoyment of Florida’s coastal resources,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “DEP is proud to partner with Franklin County on the Indian Creek project, which will provide increased public access and recreational opportunities."

The enhancements to the existing ramp include a new, deeper boat ramp, aluminum access gangway and floating dock, replacement of existing bulkhead with steel sheet piling and concrete cap, safety fencing, handicap parking space, and improved parking for vehicles and boat trailers.

“There was a ramp that was put in I don’t know when,” said County Planner Mark Curenton. “The concrete sections were misaligned, it was a very poor ramp.”

One item that was in the original plans, to construct restroom facilities and connect them to an existing central wastewater facility nearby, was not built.

Faced with limited available funds, county commissioners in July 2015 voted unanimously to remove the bathroom from the project, if needed, and made the ramp improvements and parking expansion their higher priorities.

Curenton said the state handled the entire project, which was completed by H. G Harders out of Panama City.

“Hopefully more people will use it, it’s nearer to the summer bars,” he said. “I would expect during certain times of the year it will be well used and other times of year it won’t be heavily used.”

Commissioner Ricky Jones said county residents “are grateful for the renovations that were completed recently at the Indian Creek boat ramp in Eastpoint. All the residents, as well as our visitors, are going to be benefited for years to come with this commercial/recreational ramp. On behalf of our residents, I would like to express my thanks for the completed project.”

The Indian Creek project is part of a $1.48 million NRDA expenditure on county parks and boat ramps. These include the soon-to-be completed Waterfront Park project at the former Lombardi Seafood property, which will enhance existing parking and adjacent tie-up docks at the existing park. In addition an existing onsite building will be enhanced to serve as an information center and dockmaster office.

Also included are enhancements to the Eastpoint Fishing Pier, which include the construction of new restrooms and a holding tank at the existing public pier.

Initially, enhancements to the St. George Island Fishing Pier Improvements, which in addition to new restrooms and a holding tank, called for renovating the existing bulkhead. The St. George Island project, however, has been dropped as a NRDA project, and the funds returned back to other county NRDA projects.

The Bald Point State Park Recreation Areas project, which will cost about $470,800 in NRDA money, includes putting in picnic pavilions, boardwalks, and a restroom with an associated aerobic treatment system and drainfield at the park in Alligator Point. Also, a boardwalk and floating dock for use as a canoe/kayak launch will be constructed at the park.

The Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area fishing and wildlife viewing access improvements, at a cost of $263,000, include the construction of a boardwalk on the quarter-mile Sand Beach interpretive trail, and the construction of a fishing and wildlife observation structure and associated parking at Cash Bayou.