Fishing Close to Home
asking if the town qualified for help under the Department's Community Assistance Program.
They planned a major development that included a better launch ramp, lots more parking and easy pedestrian access to the river.
Following discussions and meetings, the Conservation Department agreed to provide over $93,000 for costs of materials necessary for the riverfront parking facility.
In return, the city would use municipal equipment and labor to build the facility. The city also pledged to clean, maintain and police the area.
"When the Conservation Department got involved, that's when major developments started," said Jerry Jasper, director of the City of Washington's Parks and Recreation Department.
The Washington Lion's Club provided money to the city to expand the park, and the Conservation Commission approved funds to develop a lower parking lot area and to help with a courtesy dock.
Conservation Department funding also allowed improving and widening the ramp, which wasn't protected from the river current and was described as difficult and potentially dangerous. The new launch area provided room to negotiate trailers, plenty of trailer parking and a wider apron.
"You can launch three or four boats at a time, without any trouble," said Jasper. "As far as I've been able to see, it's one of the best launches in the state." Jasper described the park as one of the jewels in the crown of the city.
"It's such a nice location, and so visible," Jasper said. "You can find people there from first light to late in the evening; they'll be down there in the dead of winter - no matter how cold or hot. A lot of individuals who can't get outdoors in cold weather like to come to the river. They can sit in their cars and get an unobstructed view of the river a long way up the Missouri valley. That's their recreation.
The park also hosts crafts festivals, the city's art and wine festival and lots of family reunions. "The water will draw people," Jasper said. "When you have a place that has access to the river, and it's nice, they come."
The city plans more development of the riverfront area. "We're going to go both ways, west and east," Jasper said. The next major project is a bike and hike trail that connects Rennick Park with Southpoint, where the city owns another large piece of property.
The development along the riverfront is going hand in hand with the revitalization of Washington's downtown area. "Anything that we can do with the riverfront, the downtown merchants are 110 percent behind," Jasper said. "It's been a definite benefit for them: they enjoy being there, and it draws people from outside the area to downtown."
About the Community Assistance Program
Any public agency or group that owns or holds a long-term lease on property that has lake, pond or stream frontage is eligible.
Any interested citizen, organization or service club can start the ball rolling by suggesting improvements for local waters to either local government officials or to the Conservation Department.
The CAP emphasizes helping communities provide fishing opportunities for youths, the elderly, families and disabled anglers.
Assistance usually takes the form of cash grants, with the community handling construction or contracting parts of the project.
Processing times for CAP agreements vary. Some projects have been processed and completed within three months, while more complex projects have taken up to three years.
For more information about the Community Assistance Program, contact Larry Gann, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180.