Packing the Ice Harbor: Dubuque bringing in more boats? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Packing the Ice Harbor: Dubuque bringing in more boats?


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- You'll likely soon be able to drive your boat right up to the Port of Dubuque and dock at a brand new public marina. That's thanks to a more than $3 million US Fish and Wildlife Service grant for boating infrastructure and $1 million budgeted by the city. The city is, however, facing some challenges in making this project float.

The city of Dubuque has been looking to bring more people in off of the waterways and not just the roadways, so the funding has been pretty exciting. But, it turns out getting around the regulations, working out logistics and making everyone happy are a bit trickier."

The Port of Dubuque Ice Harbor is now the more probable site for up to 60 new boat slips, potentially bringing dozens of small boats in, alongside several big boats.

"Putting a mix of large boats and small boats together always presents some challenges because the big boats don't have the stopping capacity that the smaller boats do, and the smaller boats don't always understand the rules of the road," Walt Webster said.

Webster owns Dubuque River Rides. That includes harbor regulars Miss Dubuque (a yacht) and the Spirit of Dubuque (a paddlewheel boat).

"The paddlewheel boat is not as menuverable as most boats with propellers underneath it, so it needs a lot more room to be able to make the corners and stop and get going," Webster said.

Originally the city looked at using the main channel for the project, but out there it could cost up to nearly double to wire in utilities for the marina and add protection from waves and ice.

So, in the harbor, it's more economical and easier to install, and the concern now is protecting everyone.

"We as professional merchant mariners have much more responsibility and our licences are at risk if something should happen whether it's our fault or not," Webster said.

The city plans to meet with harbor business owners over the next two weeks to work on plans.

"We're optimistic about how things are going to come together, and we believe everyone's needs are going to get met in the longrun," Webster said.

The city manager's office is working up a recommendation for the city council. Right now, it's scheduled to go up before the council for a decision on July 20.

The proposed plans show adding the new slips where the old Diamond Jo riverboat casino now sits. The boat was sold a couple months ago, and the city has indicated the boat will be moved from its current position.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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