In an effort to enhance waterfront tourism, the City of St. Helens will spend approximately $250,000 for a water taxi.
The proposed use of the water taxi is for transporting visitors and equipment to and from Sand Island for tourism events and other possible destinations, according to city officials. The boat, offered by Bargeworx, LLC., is to be paid for by the city's tourism event revenues.
"The City will put a deposit on the boat, followed by refurbishment work and improvements," St. Helens Communications Officer Crystal King said. "After the improvements are made, the boat will have a full certificate of inspection (COI) from the Oregon Office of the U.S. Coast Guard. The boat currently holds a COI for 30-passenger occupancy."
St. Helens City Administrator John Wash told The Chronicle in a published interview in early May, that the vessel could be used 'year-round.'
"The shuttle will be operated by a certified, licensed captain who will be paid for out of tourism funds," he said. "The boat is covered so it does allow for year-round use if tourism activities are developed over the winter months."
Walsh said the goal is to increase access to Sand Island just to the east of the city and expand tourism activities in the Columbia River.
"Sand Island is an asset for creating unique tourism experiences in our region," he said. "Having a boat will allow the city to capitalize on the recreational opportunities and tourism-related events which can be developed along our riverfront."
The St. Helens Marina currently operates a shuttle service to Sand Island for access to the island's campground. Walsh said the new water taxi would be in addition to that shuttle.
The St. Helens City Council approved placing a deposit for the water taxi following a public hearing May 18.