Alton looking to send floating dock downriver to Cape

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Cape Girardeau city officials say they're interested in bringing a floating dock to the city's riverside park.

At Monday night's city council meeting, Mayor Jay Knudtson said he, chamber of commerce president John Mehner and Convention and Visitors Bureau director Chuck Martin would travel to Alton, Ill., soon for a firsthand look.

On Tuesday, Knudtson said many questions need to be answered before the city would take possession.

But the mayor said the dock could come at no cost to the city.

Alton's director of development and housing, Phil Roggio, said the property ended up in Alton's hands after an excursion boating operation went out of business. He said Alton needs to get rid of it within a month to make room for the arrival of two large paddlewheel excursion boats, the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen.

Roggio said Dana Kollars, captain of the Grampa Woo, a larger excursion boat that provides occasional river trips in Cape Girardeau, asked the city of Alton about the barge dock. Roggio said the city will give away the dock if Kollars would agree to move it.

Telephone messages for Kollars were not returned Tuesday, but Knudtson said he has expressed interest in donating the barge dock to the city of Cape Girardeau.

The barge is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide and can accommodate a rise or fall in the level of the river of about 35 feet.

Knudtson said the dock might benefit tourism if boats such as the Woo could tie up there. He also said it could be used for small gatherings or for bands to play on during larger celebrations.

When Cape Girardeau considered gambling boats a decade ago, there was much discussion about docking a boat on the Cape Girardeau side of the river because of navigation concerns. Knudtson said the city would have to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before accepting a dock, but he said this dock is much smaller than anything considered in the 1990s.

"It may turn out to be a nothing deal," Knudtson said. "But we feel we owe it to the city to at least look into it. I do think with the development on Water Street and the activity downtown, it could develop into something that could go a long way."

Mehner said he doesn't know much about the dock, but said one of the reasons for the upcoming trip would be to find out if it would indeed be a free gift.

Martin was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.


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