There are boatloads of changes in store at Lewis & Clark Marina.
Construction is underway on an update of the docks at the marina, located west of Yankton off Highway 52. By the spring of 2023, the docks are expected to be new and reconfigured to run north and south from shore to bay side, creating a single east-west water access channel, according to a letter sent out to slip holders about the project.
The approximately $7 million improvement project, being undertaken by owner Donlin Marine, is expected to add about 66 slips to the current 409, maxing out the existing marina’s capacity, said Heath Denney, general manager of the Lewis and Clark Marina.
Current construction, which is being done by Tiger Docks of Wright City, Missouri, is focused on the south side for now.
“For 2021, it’s just a relocation of the existing docks, and we’ll add two new smaller docks this year for our 24-foot boats,” he said. “Then for 2022, hopefully, we’re ripping those docks out and then putting in brand new ones. Then, we continue down the line with upgrading them all.”
Heath said the existing marina docks were installed about 40 years ago.
“This will bring more slips and upgraded slips,” he said. “We’re trying to make it easier and safer (with single-channel access) for our current slip holders. Also, the electrical that runs through is pretty old, so we want to update all that.”
Also the types of boats people use more these days have changed since the docks were put in.
“People’s choices in boats have definitely changed the last five years,” Heath said. “There are more pontoons and open-bow boats, more of your runabouts, who wants slips.”
When completed, docks on the north side of the marina will be longer, accommodating larger restroom and parking facilities than those to the south side, he said.
The boat ramp at Lewis & Clark Marina is currently closed to facilitate construction.
“Our regular marina season, starts May 1- Oct. 15, so we’re trying to launch boats and also do this dock (project) at the same time,” Heath said. “It’s congested right now, but the goal is to have everybody in the water by Memorial Day weekend.”
Once the summer is over, construction can continue until the water freezes, and then work will pick up again after it thaws in the spring, he said.
“The reason we can’t just rip out all the docks and rebuild them is that we don’t want any one of our 400 current slip holders to have to sit out a year,” Heath said. “We’re doing a couple of docks at a time. That way, no current slip holder is left out.”
The expansion is also expected to help with the sometimes 400-person-long waiting list to get a slip at the marina, he said, adding that area population isn’t getting any smaller.
“During the COVID year, the state park area and the marina saw a huge boom in in tourists, people coming into the park system to utilize what we have,” Heath said. “So the idea came to try to keep up with the growing change in people’s demands.”