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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Improving the appearance and usefulness of the Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry landing. is something in which the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen would be willing to take a leadership role.
Ward 3 Alderman Joe Steiger described a project the Ste. Genevieve Rotary Club would like to do, to revamp the area around the ferry landing. He explained that it is in conjunction with the local Rotary Club’s 50th anniversary.
Steiger said one of the biggest issues the city has is how to give visitors a chance to safely see the river in an attractive setting that is “a good experience for visitors and guests and residents alike.”
The answer, he said, is to address “the eyesore that is the ferry landing right now.”
The Rotary Club is willing to put up to $25,000 into the project and expects to receive a similar amount of financial support fro other local organizations.
Steiger stressed that the Rotary Club was not asking the city for money, just for the city to oversee the project.
While the landing is not in the city limits, Steiger expressed confidence that easements can be obtained from the two property owners, Mississippi Lime Company, and the railroads.
“The project would entail doing some engineering, having the parking lot paved, maybe some beautification parts like adding some benches or tables that could handle some flooding or be removable if there was some major flooding,” Steiger said, “and maybe then some signage or some historical signs.”
He said it would be too big a project for the club to take on itself. A “full-time staff member” would probably be needed to oversee it.
“The project would entail getting the easements, getting that property annexed into the city, getting the engineering work, doing the pavement, doing the beautification project and then potentially turning the area over to the parks department and have it be included as a city park,” Steiger said.
Larry Jones of Missouri Stream Team No. 5628 said the stream team has been cleaning up both the ferry landing and the old Marina de Gabouri site for five years.
VISITORS WANT TO SEE RIVER
“The No. 1 question I get asked … people come to town, their No. 1 question is ‘Where can we go to do something on the river,’” Jones said. “I find it almost embarrassing that we’re a river town and I can’t tell them where to go.”
Others involved in tourism were quick to add that visitors are disappointed at not having an access to the river, and that the ferry landing is embarrassingly ugly as a site for tourists to visit.
Ronnie Inman, who manages the ferry, said Tower Rock Stone and Luhr Brothers Construction built the ferry ramp in 1984, in advance of the city’s bicentennial celebration and that Charlie Herzog poured the concrete for free.
Inman said that Chris Koehler, the New Bourbon Regional Port Authority’s engineer, would donate his services for getting the permitting from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
“Another thing a lot of people don’t know, that’s the National Hiking and Biking Trail crossing to the Mississippi River from the Great River,” Inman said. “So they come down the Illinois side, cross over, go down to Perry County, cross back across, and go down the Illinois side all the way to Gulf of Mexico. But we’ve got people even in the winter from California, New York, wherever it crosses there.”
He also added that the ferry is bringing a large amount of Illinois residents to town to visit River Rapids Waterpark.
“It’s unbelievable how many people cross it from the water park,” he said. “It really is. We couldn’t believe how many people from Illinois, because their closest access to the water park is either Cape Girardeau or Collinsville. So you get a lot of people all the way from Redbud and over in there. We’ve got people every day. And they’ll buy a round trip ticket even though they stay over here later. Maybe they go to Sarah’s after, go eat lunch here, or something. And then they come back the next day, you know, to get a little bit of break in their costs.”
Other longtime tourism leaders like Sara Menard and Mickey Koetting voiced the opinion that tit is embarrassing to send tourists to view the river at such an unattractive site. They stressed the need for safe, attractive river access.
Donovan asked if there was a realistic timeline.
“The biggest hurdle will be getting those easements from Mississippi line and the railroad,” Steiger said. “That’ll probably be the biggest because then after that it’s just paving a parking lot right, you know, but I think the biggest hurdle will be if we do decide to annex it in that’s there’s no there’s nobody who lives there; there’s nobody who gets to vote on it, so it’ll be a friendly annexation so that would be a fairly in-house easy process. I don’t want to say ‘easy,’ but so the biggest thing will be getting those two easements from those two current property owners where we want to put that parking lot area.
“Then once you get that, I think it’s fairly easy. It’s doing the engineering and paving a parking lot and putting in some benches.”