James City County Parks and Recreation, with the help of Billsburg Brewery, has developed renovation plans for the James City County Marina, including additional boat slips, a possible restaurant and more parking.
The plan is still in its draft phase, but the $6 million improvements — in two phases — could begin as soon as December, Parks and Recreation Director John Carnifax said during an Economic Development Authority meeting Tuesday.
The Board of Supervisors first approved the James City County Master Plan in 2009, which included a “Shaping Our Shores” plan to update and revitalize the marina.
While the draft improvements were approved as part of the master plan, the Board of Supervisors “didn’t feel real strong” about certain aspects, including commercial residential condos onsite, Carnifax said.
“We’ve scaled it back quite a bit,” Carnifax said.
Since 2009, the plan has been changed to better reflect the community needs and interests in the area, he added.
Much of the plan involves replacing existing facilities on site with new, improved ones such as existing boat slips. A new building could be constructed to house a new business such as a restaurant. Plans also include adding a third boat slip facility and dry storage to meet the needs of the current slip waitlist.
“We’re creating a destination area,” said Robin Bledsoe, chairwoman of the Economic Development Authority.
Of the approximately $6 million cost, about $3 million was allocated in the current fiscal year 2020 budget to replace the front area of the marina with a living shoreline and floating dock system. Carnifax said they’re working on “permitting issues” involving relocating the gas tank, adding he hopes to put the project out to bid in October.
The second phase of the project will also cost just over $3 million and includes dredging in the basin. The dredging alone will cost about $1 million of the total cost. The Army Corps of Engineers has already approved a permit for dredging.
Some of the challenges of revitalizing the marina involve the lower part of the infrastructure being in a flood plain. Both a large white marina building and the gas tanks need to be moved out of the flood zone.
Billsburg Brewery and founder Dave Baum were instrumental in reshaping the plan.
Billsburg was born from an initiative to revitalize the marina area, which the county unsuccessfully tried to sell for five or six years.
“For us, really it’s a — the step’s in the right direction to give us the infrastructure we need,” Baum said. “We’ve been working with John [Carnifax] about … explaining where we really want the community to buy into this.”
Billsburg will celebrate its second birthday Oct. 27. Since it opened, it has seen 33.6 percent growth, Baum said.
Once work is complete, Carnifax said the marina rates and operating standards will be changed to more closely match other public marinas in the region, from Richmond down to Virginia Beach.
“We will probably hear a little fuss about that,” Carnifax added.
Carnifax said the James City County Marina rates are under the market average for public marinas because of the condition of the marina. The county also offers leases for three- or six-month periods, while many others only offer yearlong leases.