Sheila Shutts and other members of the Bullhead City Council were impressed.
“I think what we’re doing right now is awesome,” Shutts said after the council took a field trip to see the progress on the south beach at Bullhead Community Park, an area commonly known as Section 12. “It’s beautiful.”
And, noted City Manager Toby Cotter, it’s a work in progress — and probably will be for at least a couple of years.
“It’s not really ready for fully functioning public access,” Cotter said during a council work session following the brief tour on Tuesday afternoon. “We need to get the public to understand that this is going to take a couple of years.”
That hasn’t deterred the public from enjoying the newly created beaches. Last summer, the city opened a section of the area south of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce building; it immediately got the public’s use and approval.
As work has extended south on Section 12, beyond Secret Pass Wash, the public has been quick to take advantage of the extra space. Cotter said there are some safety issues, especially with the wash area and the proximity to the Colorado River of unpaved areas that are being used for parking. Eventually, the area will have paved parking lots. Eventually, vehicle access to the river will be limited if not completely prohibited in the area.
But for now, council focused on the short-term future of the area. At the work session, council members and city staff discussed some possible tweaks to original plans — tweaks based either on safety concerns or cost considerations.
Long-term plans call for a marina to be built; original plans also included a small, public island near the marina. Cotter and interim Public Works Director Keegan Littrell both said the island structure would cost at least
$1 million, with a foot bridge from the shore to the island running around $500,000 and dredging running that much or more.
“That island is definitely something we need to talk about,” Cotter said before asking for comments from the councilmembers: “Do you think the island is a necessary amenity?”
The five councilmembers present — Mayor Tom Brady already had toured the Section 12 beach and arrived near the end of the work session, and Vice Mayor Mark Clark was attending the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District meeting — agreed that it was not necessary, especially given the cost.
Councilmember Steven D’Amico summed it up, calling it “too much money for the island” and saying that such an expenditure could cut into other higher-priority amenities or delay implementation of approved plans.
Cotter said he will recommend that the Parks and Recreation Commission consider plans with and without the island. The parks commission would then make a recommendation to the city council for a vote later this spring.
Cotter and Littrell said work on Section 12, if done by outside workers, would run into “many millions of dollars.” The city is looking at major expenditures in the long term, especially for a marina, but has been able to get considerable work done — at a much lower cost — by having the public works department do as much as possible.
“In the short term, it’s not the prettiest park yet,” Cotter said during the field trip before pointing toward the river and adding, “but it’s pretty that way.”