$15M Caesar Creek marina project planned

First phase of Warren County project set to open in 2016.

Excavation is expected to begin this winter on a marina on Caesar Creek Lake as part of a $15 million improvement plan.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources plans to seek bids this month for the initial work on the $ 7 million first phase, including 120-150 boat slips, as well as floating seawalls and harbor facilities where boaters will be able to buy gas, bait, ice, refreshments and other boating items.

“The marina is moving forward. They are planning on beginning construction at the end of this year,” Art Harden, president of the Caesar Creek Sailing Association, said during a recent presentation to the Warren County Board of Commissioners.

The marina is to be built just north of the Ohio 73 bridge over the 2,830-acre lake and south of the beach.

On Thursday, about 20 trailers were parked near the Wellman Boat Ramp, where sailors and power boaters currently put in - across from and north of where the marina will be located.

“I think it’ll be good,” Frank Plennert of Lebanon said as he guided his trailer and power boat into the lake.

Plennert was glad to hear the state planned to offer fuel and suggested boaters would also patronize a restaurant at the marina.

The state of Ohio is funding the initial project but plans to contract with a private operator on future development of the site. Total project cost has been estimated at $15 million. The public money is to come from gas taxes deposited in a Waterway Safety Fund.

Ultimately, plans call for as many as 400 slips and a fishing pond for kids.

A marina has always been part of plans at the park, opened in 1978.

Various plans have been proposed, some relying on private developers, others based on state funding.

A decade ago, plans to build a marina were set aside after state funds were used for other projects, including the purchase of North Bass Island, according to Harden.

“We were just overlooked and overlooked,” said Harden, whose group has lobbied for the project in Columbus.

State officials said that construction can begin this winter due to completion of an archaeological survey for potential historical significance required by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

The Corps developed the lake in the 1970s as a flood control reservoir and rents the 7,941-acre park to the state.

“Marina construction will continue through 2015, and the project is planned for completion in 2016,” Eileen Corson, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft, said in an email.

While hopeful, Harden said, “I’ll believe it when they start turning the dirt.”