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Hundreds turn out for Philpott Marina open house
Several hundred people came out to the open house at Philpott Marina on Sunday. The marina has been mostly completed, and people with boat slips can begin using them now. Once the store is stocked and gas is delivered, the marina will be fully open. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Henry County’s new Philpott Marina got rave reviews at an open house Sunday.
Several hundred people visited the new facility on Boat Ramp Road at Philpott Lake. The turnout surprised county Parks and Recreation Director Roger Adams, who added that he heard nothing but positive comments from people he spoke with inside the approximately 30- by 30-foot marina store.
People told him the facility was beautiful and that they could not wait to use it while boating at the lake, he said.
They probably won’t have to wait much longer. Those who have rented any of the 40 reserved slips can use them now, Adams said.
Non-ethanol fuel is expected to be delivered this week, and the store then will be manned so people can buy fuel, he said. After that, the store will start to be stocked.
Seven boat slips still are available for rent at $1,200 a year, according to Adams and a brochure.
Some of the people at Sunday’s open house came to view their slip. Temperatures in the 70s had several people wishing they could get out on the water now.
Terry and Cindy Summit were among them. The Martinsville couple said they rented a slip as soon as they found out about the marina, and they are eager to park their pontoon boat there.
Previously, it has been an all-day process to get to the lake and put their boat in the water, the Summits said. They hope that by having it already at the lake, they will be able to use it more often and bring others to entertain and take advantage of all Philpott has to offer.
“It’s so natural and earthy,” Terry Summit said, describing the bear, eagle and deer he has seen at the lake.
Former Henry County supervisor Sam Pilson of Bassett said the day the Henry County Board of Supervisors voted to build the marina, he called then-Henry County administrator Benny Summerlin to reserve a slip.
Pilson lives nearby, and said he is looking forward to putting his 20-foot ski boat in the slip. He said he tries to use his boat every evening during the summer and on weekends.
“We’ve needed this (the marina) for a long time,” he said, adding that it will bring people to the area and generate interest in Philpott. He predicted it will create controlled growth at the lake.
“I was a big proponent of the county owning and running” the marina, Pilson said. He added that it will be a “big addition” to the county’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Brian Williams of Henry County, who is the Martinsville-Henry County program manager for the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA), also praised the marina and noted that it fits into a cove at Philpott without disturbing its surroundings, is clean and “beautiful.”
“They’ve done a good job of growth with controlled development,” he said, explaining that the county did not try to build the biggest marina possible. Instead, officials looked at “how to best make it work for Philpott.”
“Nobody wants a Smith Mountain Lake,” Williams said, referring to the highly developed area with sometimes crowded boating conditions. Instead, they want a lake that people will use, view as an environmental treasure and want to protect, he said.
DRBA has a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Philpott, to develop trails, interpretive signs and events, according to Tiffany Haworth, DRBA executive director. She noted that 700,000 people visit Philpott each year.
“We already have a lot of people coming here for recreational tourism,” she said, and DRBA wants to help create better opportunities for them as well as area residents at the lake.
Denise Conner of Fieldale also hopes the marina will bring revenue into the area, she said as she kept tabs on her grandson, 18-month-old Ralph Short Jr., as he ran on the decking between the boat slips at the open house.
Her sons, Ralph Short and Frankie Flippin, both of Bassett, use the lake, so she wanted to come out Sunday and see the new marina. She liked what she saw, she added.
That was the point of Sunday’s open house, according to County Administrator Tim Hall, who attended the event. He noted that people were at the marina 90 minutes before the open house began, and some even went there last week despite the fact that the open house was put off for a week due to the snowstorm.
When Hall arrived there Sunday, a couple walking toward the marina asked him to take their photograph with the marina in the background, he said, obviously pleased with that experience.
“That’s what this is all about,” he said.
Some people had concerns about spending public money on the marina, possibly increasing traffic and use of the lake that would jeopardize its pristine nature, and other issues. The approximately $1.3 million marina was funded by Henry County, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and The Harvest Foundation.
Hall said he understands those concerns, and that is why the county wanted to give people a chance to see and touch the marina and “feel the possibilities.”
And their reaction was positive, he added.
For more information on the marina and boat slip rentals, contact Parks and Recreation or go to info@PhilpottMarina.com.