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The concrete dock that federal money rebuilt after the 2004-5 hurricane seasons is great for fishing, but not much else, and the Levy County Commission is looking to change the situation in an effort to lure boaters to the city's amenities.
Before the dock was built, there was a wooden dock where boaters could tie up and go ashore to stay in lodgings and dine and drink in Cedar Key.
But the new dock's height, mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prevent its destruction by future storms, makes it impossible for boaters to stop for outings in town.
Commission Chair Ryan Bell brought up the subject asking if the FEMA rules would prohibit construction of a boat dock at the big dock. He asked about construction of a place for boaters to tie up and even to stay for more than a few hours.
Bell said he was approached about the matter by two business owners in the coastal town. "People have nowhere to anchor up," he said. And there is only one pump out station for waste.
"The State/federal funding documents for the Big Dock reconstruction do not prohibit the County from conducting income-generating activities at the Big Dock," Brown said in a memo to the commission. "The current submerged lands lease does not allow income generating activities at the Big Dock, however, a new or amended lease may require the County to pay the State fees which are not required under the current lease."
The county leases the submergend land where the dock is located from the state.
"If you do anything with money (coming in) the state may want a slice of that," she said.
Any deal would have to be approved by the Florida Cabinet sitting as the state Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvements Trust Fund.
She also wrote in the memo that the documents also do not prohibit construction of a floating dock adjacent to the Big Dock. "The addition of a floating dock would require application for a new submerged lands lease to address the expansion of the area of the sovereign submerged lands beneath the proposed County facilities." But, she did note, that construction would require permits.
"Imagine if you could pull your boat up there and tie off," Bell said. While another piece of property — one owned by the family of former School Board Member Beth Davis and Drummond Community Bank Vice President and former Cedar Key Mayor Heath Davis may be available for locating a dock.
"I hear the Davis family is ready to do something and I don't want to take something off the tax rolls but we have to do something to help businesses down there," Bell said.
County Coordinator Fred Moody said provisions could have to be made for people to get from a floating boat dock to Dock Street which sits high off the water. "How do they get up to that thing?" Moody said.
Moody noted the city does not want to operated the dock and the size of the city marina is limited by the size of the Dock Street bridge and the number of available spaces in the enclosed body of water.
Commissioner John Meeks of Bronson (R-District 1)said the county would need to consider what amenities it would offer and limit tie ups. "We need to get an idea of what we're going to build,' he said. Bell said he would like County Engineer Lee Mills to do some work on the idea.
Meeks said some requirements are needed because "you run into a floating RV park and people who are less than desirable" living at the dock.
Commissioner Danny Stevens of Williston (R-District 5) said, "You need to come up with a real small thing and have daily docking."
The board came to a consensus to have the engineer come up with a proposal for them to consider.