The Town of Halifax is starting off 2015 with a bang after being awarded a $90,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).  The grant will allow Halifax to grow their Public Boating Access Facilities by constructing two boat ramps along the Banister Lake.

The existing boat ramp at Banister Lake, has been in use for over 30 years, and is in need of major upgrades. The courtesy pier also needs to be replaced as the site is not currently ADA compliant.

This grant, prepared by Southside PDC staff, will offer a number of improvements to the site:

  • Rehabilitate the existing motorized boat ramp to current standards
  • Demo the existing pier and replace it with an ADA compliant pier
  • Install a new, non-motorized boat ramp (hand launch)
  • Repair the parking lot surface and entry apron
  • Add security lights and trash and recycling receptacles
  • Remove non-native plants
  • Stabilize the river bank
  • Landscaping

Over the past 2 years, Halifax County and Town officials have discussed steps needed to improve the facilities and to re-enter a cooperative agreement with VDGIF. The localities completed the process of transferring the property to the Town of Halifax for public boating use in December 2014.

According to Halifax Town Manager, Carl Espy, this grant will help keep the Town on the map.

 “Interest in kayaking/canoeing has grown significantly, and with the recent development of the Southern Virginia Wild Blueway (SVWB), this access site will experience higher demand from both motorized boat users and paddle sport water craft enthusiasts for fishing, wildlife viewing and related outdoor activities,” said Espy.

The SVWB connects over 100 miles of navigable water and 1,200 miles of shoreline.

Halifax County Administrator Jim Halasz also spoke highly of the grant noting, “improvement to the Banister (Lake) Boat Launch supports our joint efforts to continue to market and attract visitors to our Southern Virginia Wild Blueways. With our partner, Mecklenburg County, Halifax County benefits greatly from the presence of the Dan, Banister, Staunton and Hyco Rivers and Buggs Island Lake. These wonderful natural assets provide abundant opportunity for recreational and sporting activities and attract many people to our area providing investment, jobs, income and tax base. They also contribute greatly to the quality of life we enjoy.”

Across the Commonwealth recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia; many more boats (canoes/kayaks) that are not registered use existing facilities or are in need of additional sites.  This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for trailer or non-trailer hand-launch boats. This is the third year that the Department has funded this grant program.