Construction begins on Havens Garden kayak launch

LAUNCHED: A new kayak launch, adjacent to the Havens Garden boat ramp, and Backwater Jack’s Tiki Bar and Grill, is currently being built on Runyon Creek. The launch represents a partnership between Sound Rivers and the City of Washington. (Photo by Sound Rivers)

Construction has started on a new kayak launch at Havens Garden in Washington.

The kayak launch is being built on Runyon Creek and is the first of three upcoming kayak launch installations intended to get people paddling the Tar-Pamlico Water Trail.

“The goal is increase access to the trail with these launches,” said Clay Barber, Sound Rivers’ environmental projects coordinator.

The kayak launch, adjacent to the existing boat ramp on the creek, has been in the works for more than four years, when Sound Rivers received a $115,000 Recreational Trails Program grant from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources — the same grant used to construct the camping platforms along the Tar-Pamlico Water Trail — with other funding from the North Carolina Division of Water Resources. The City of Washington owns the property where the launch is being installed, and worked closely with Sound Rivers in the planning stages, in addition to matching $19,900-worth of the grant, according to Jonathan Russell, Washington’s City Manager.

“Parks and Recreation, along with the city Planning Department, helped on the front end when they were applying for the initial grant,” Russell said. “We thought it would be a great addition to our existing facility and thought it would be a great tie-in with what Sound Rivers was doing as part of their mission.”

The kayak launch construction includes a concrete parking pad, a wood boardwalk, and two floating launches, one of which will be ADA compliant.

According to Barber, the new construction will provide a better kayaking experience and create a separate space for launching, away from motorists launching their powerboats at the adjacent boat ramp.

“It just gives you a little separation from the motorists putting in their boats, and people won’t have to wait and you won’t feel like you’re holding things up — there will be less conflict there,” Barber said.

Russell said the partnership and the new launch is a win for both the City and Sound Rivers.

“I think (the launch) will be a great addition, and we’re looking forward to the success of it over the summer,” Russell said. “It’s been a great partnership with Sound Rivers. They’ve been great to work with, and hopefully we can collaborate on some additional projects in the future.”

The two other kayak launches funded by the grant will be located at Mason’s Landing in Washington and Port Terminal in Greenville.

Sound Rivers is a private nonprofit that guards the health and natural beauty of the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River basins. The organization partners with concerned citizens to monitor, protect, restore and preserve the watersheds covering 23% of North Carolina’s land mass, with a goal of providing clean water to eastern North Carolina communities for consumption, recreation, nature preservation and agricultural use. Sound Rivers is based in Washington.