New marina to open at Rough River next month

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By Rebecca Morris

The landscape at Rough River Dam State Resort Park will be changing in coming weeks.
During a March 9 meeting of the Friends of Rough River organization, park manager Michael Ricks announced that the long-planned relocation of the park’s marina is nearing completion.
Efforts to move the marina to the north side of the lodge, between the Point and the beach, have been underway for years. The new spot, in deeper water, will allow the marina to be used year-round.
“We will start accepting some boats the second week of April,” Ricks told the group, adding that while slips are still open they’re “filling up fast.”
Construction won’t be finished by the time of the April “soft opening,” he said. There are extensive plans for the marina — new walkways, new concession areas, a spot to rent paddle boards and kayaks — which will be finalized throughout the summer.
A ribbon cutting likely will be held in June, he said.
“It’s something that’s really going to be a benefit to everybody,” Ricks said.
The marina’s current location, south of the lodge, is only available for seasonal use during the 5 ½-months the lake is at recreational levels, also known as summer pool. The winter drop in lake levels has meant the marina must be taken apart, moved and anchored in deeper water for most of the year.
The seasonal marina also has limited the number of houseboat owners who can call Rough River Lake home. The current marina has 31 houseboat slips, most of which were only leased for half the year. Boat owners had to find other docking during the winter pool or remove their boats from the lake completely.
With a longer boating season, the state park should see more money from slip rentals, lodging and restaurant use, Ricks has said. And the financial benefits of a longer boating season should extend to businesses in adjacent communities such as Falls of Rough too — everything from increased fuel sales to restaurant visits and supply purchases.
Kentucky began to explore moving the marina in 2011, when a study was done to explore the project’s feasibility.
Former state Sen. Carroll Gibson of Leitchfield went to bat for the park, securing $850,000 in the 2014 state budget for the move.
Gibson had secured another $1 million for the project in the state’s 2015-16 fiscal year budget, but the money got caught up in Gov. Matt Bevin’s spending cuts. In late April 2016, the governor signed off on the appropriation by  eliminating “2015” from the language, extending the timeframe for its use.