Loudon City Council got a glimpse Monday of what the future could hold for Loudon’s harbor.
The city received a grant last year from Appalachian Regional Commission to study the feasibility of dredging Steekee Creek to facilitate marina-type activities.
University of Tennessee engineering dedicated senior projects to calculating dredging figures for the city. Impressed with their work, the city is considering hiring licensed engineers to pick out the fine details of how cleaning the harbor bed would unfold.
“We want to get licensed engineers involved to give us a true picture and an estimate of what all this would entail,” Ty Ross, city manager, said Monday during a workshop.
Jamie Blanton with Thompson Engineering attended the workshop to highlight the major scopes of the project.
“We got involved with this project by doing a similar effort for Rhea County,” Blanton said. “They have, as you know, Fish Dayton, a great deal of commerce and have garnered some state of attention for the amount of traffic it’s brought into the county. They wanted to improve their harbor in a very specific way to accommodate that type of traffic. Since then, nearly anyone with a pond big enough to fit a college fishing tournament into it is looking into the same type of opportunity.”
Blanton emphasized Loudon’s location as an ideal spot for creating a marina setting.
“You guys have a number of other revenue streams and potential commerce, but with just the traditional traffic, the game day involvement, where you live, just in the overall traffic of Watts Bar, if you had other amenities for boaters to get to and just the immediate impacts you make to your waterfront and your surrounding area,” he said.
Blanton said the work UT engineering students accomplished could be useful to future consultants as they “hit most of the high points that another consultant might want to consider for all the issues you may face in accessing the harbor depending on how you want to do that.”
“Essentially, you have a substantial grant,” he said. “Dredging alone is not an insanely intensive civil engineering fee. The permitting coordination and other agency coordination has some fee associated with it but even that can be somewhat limited.”
Though future plans for the harbor are unshaped, Thompson Engineering predicts to take on a long-range planning timeline with environmental surveys, preliminary and final engineering, construction administration and bid preparation — all of which would be essential to properly tidy up the harbor.
Beyond cleaning up Steekee Creek, improving courtesy docks would help the appearance of the lake.
Ross shared Blanton’s hope for what Loudon’s marina future may hold.
“The ultimate goal is to determine the cost of engineering and construction that would be involved in converting Pearl Harbor into a true Loudon harbor that we could be proud of, pull commerce off of the river, including Volunteer Navy on Saturdays,” he said.
A contract with Thompson Engineering will be put together and voted on at the Aug. 19 council meeting.