GAINESVILLE — A community group has formed to oppose the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to put its first public marina on the Chestatee River arm of Lake Lanier.
Friends of Bolding Mill has started a campaign against the move, lining Chestatee Road in northwest Hall County with green “Save the Chestatee” signs and starting a website that features a petition page.
“We feel that the marina is just not needed here,” said David Day, a nearby resident who spearheads the group. “It would create an excess in boat traffic, boating accidents, deaths, noise, traffic and crime.”
The group formed after the corps announced in February it would send out a formal “request for proposals” for the marina, which would be on 17 acres at Bolding Mill Park at 4055 Chestatee Road, off Cool Springs Road.
The peninsula juts out into Lanier near where Dawson, Forsyth and Hall counties meet. And it’s across the lake from War Hill Park.
“Currently, there are no marinas in this area, and this marina will satisfy the portion of the master plan that calls for fuel services on this end of the lake,” said Lisa Parker, Mobile [Ala.] District spokeswoman, at the time.
Tim Rainey, the corps’ operations project manager at Lanier, has said, “We have needed services [in that area] basically forever.”
Pat Robbins, a corps spokesman in Mobile, said this week that the request for proposals is “still being worked here in the district and has not gone out yet to the marina community for response.”
The nearest public marinas are Port Royale in north Forsyth and Sunrise Cove and Gainesville Marina in Hall.
There are nine marinas operating around Lanier, as set out by the Lake Lanier Master Plan.
The proposed Chestatee marina would occupy part of the day-use area at Bolding Mill, Rainey has said.
Bolding Mill also features a campground overlooking the lake.
“Our thoughts were if we could put something attractive there, such as a marina, it could increase the visitation to the campground as well,” Rainey said. “You go camping and you’ve got your boat right there. It all kind of works together.”
Friends of Bolding Mill is worried about increased visitation.
The group “believes the narrow road leading to Bolding Mill is inadequate to handle the marina, along with the current campgrounds, public boat ramp and public beach,” its website states.
Also, “the parking lot and restroom facility are inadequate to handle such a large volume of visitors, vehicles and boat trailers.”
Bolding Mill campground was headed toward the chopping block when the corps started a program where volunteers could take over services formerly handled by contractors.
Because of budget constraints, the corps had reduced the number of days per week Bolding Mill and three other campgrounds — Van Pugh South and Duckett Mill in Hall and Sawnee in Forsyth — had been open to four.
However, by handing over services to volunteers, Bolding Mill has returned to daily operations this season, which ends Sept. 7.
The idea was “to keep from shutting down the park,” Park Ranger Robert Daniel said in an earlier interview.