BB Riverboats says the idea of building a boat dock and marina at the Cincinnati Public Landing would prevent riverboat paddle wheelers like the American Queen from docking there.
Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners unanimously agreed at a Nov. 19 meeting to move ahead with the public-private concept presented by Queen City Riverboats.
The park board's estimated share of the project will be $1.7 million, according to the meeting minutes.
The project, talked about since 2015, relies on a $1.5 million from a state grant that flowed from the federal government. The park board has received a deadline extension earlier this year until June 30, 2023, to finish the boat dock or face paying back some of the money.
The concept calls for a 30 to 40 boat slip dock, bar and restaurant, restrooms with showers, relocating Queen City's "headboat" from Dayton, Kentucky, and include public dock and fireboat access, according to the park board.
Parks Commissioner Kevin Flynn said nothing has been decided yet. There is no contract, and the city will be putting it out for bid, he said.
Flynn said he is reaching out to the riverfront advisory group to verify the public landing is the best site for a city marina.
It's interesting that BB Riverboats is raising issues against the project now at the same time they are saying they want to bid on it, he said.
A request for proposals (RFP) is being prepared for the project, and BB Riverboats indicated they wanted to bid on the project, Flynn said.
"My specific position is that the marina is in the wrong place," said BB Riverboats owner Alan Bernstein.
BB Riverboats would of course bid on the marina, but with the idea that a marina would best be situated around where there used to be a marina downriver from the Great American Ball Park and not at the public landing, Bernstein said. Since the RFP is not out yet, the interest is there.
"I am very hopeful that the RFP is going to go say very specifically where the marina would go," he said.
Newport-based BB Riverboats, which operates riverboat cruises, announced in a Tuesday release that the company is not formally objecting to the plan.
The company operates the 1,000-person Belle of Cincinnati, 500-passenger River Queen and 150-passenger Mark Twain, according to the release.
The location for the proposed boat dock is not the best choice on the river, according to BB Riverboats' release.
A better location would be further west of the planned project from the foot of Main Street to the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, according to the BB Riverboats release. The alternative site discussed is where Smale Riverfront Park is located.
The Queen City's future as a river tourist attraction and visitor destination is at stake, according to the release.
The release claims that if the public landing is blocked, large steamboats such as the American Queen could no longer make Cincinnati a destination on Ohio River voyages. Planning already underway for another Tall Stacks gathering of paddlewheel boats would exclude the Cincinnati side of the river, according to the BB release.