Frisco Bay Marina’s ‘Big Dig’ would dredge tons of soil to extend boating season, make way for bigger vessels |

Frisco Bay Marina’s ‘Big Dig’ would dredge tons of soil to extend boating season, make way for bigger vessels

Frisco Bay Marina Thursday, March 15, in Frisco.
Hugh Carey / |

The town of Frisco is planning an overhaul of the Frisco Bay Marina, including a massive dredging project that would excavate tens of thousands of cubic yards of soil to expand the marina’s capacity, make way for bigger boats and extend the town’s boating season by at least a month.

The project, coined the “Big Dig,” would coincide with a complete remodel of the Marina Park, including a new waterfront bar and restaurant, larger beach area and a lawn for concerts and special events. In all, the plan is expected to cost between $10 and $12 million. The town will be hosting a community meeting to get feedback on the plans in April.

“We’ve always talked about the Big Dig as being one of those projects we wanted to do to lengthen our season,” assistant town manager Diane McBride said, reached by phone Thursday. “Right now, it’s definitely a struggle to get fully functional by the last week in June, but our goal would be to have a functional marina by mid-May.”

Deeper water would also insulate the marina’s business from dry seasons, when Lake Dillon’s water levels drop and keep boats off the water.

“We’ll never be as big or as deep as Dillon, but it will be deeper than what we currently have, so we could accommodate larger vessels and be open for a longer season.”Diane McBrideAssistant town manager

The marina’s current permit only allows for dredging during dry conditions, which also make the work quicker and cheaper. That means officials will need to either wait until conditions are right or apply for changes to their permit that allow wetter digging. Which course Frisco takes will be up to the town council, McBride said.

“We don’t have a timeframe on it at this point, but potentially within the couple of years we would hope to get started,” McBride said.

The dredging would scoop away 75,000 cubic yards of soil at a cost of roughly $1 million. That would expand the number of boats the marina could hold and also allow for the storage of larger vessels — although the Dillon Marina would retain its title as the country’s highest deep-water marina.

“We’ll never be as big or as deep as Dillon, but it will be deeper than what we currently have, so we could accommodate larger vessels and be open for a longer season,” McBride said.

The dredging would also provide the raw material to build up the marina’s shoreline, allowing the town to bring more attractions right to the water’s edge. During a Frisco Town Council work session on Tuesday, staff presented several concepts for what the re-imagined park might look like. A common feature among them was moving the boat ramp away from the middle of the park.

“The boat ramp, while it’s highly functional right now, is really not in a great location,” said Craig Coronato, one of the architects working on the project. “It divides the site into halves … it separates the activities around the main building from the activities at the waterfront.”

Overall, the plan calls for a total reconfiguration of the marina park that would bring order to its scattershot layout. Ideally, the project would better connect the park to Main Street, which is currently separated from the marina by the wide chasm of Highway 9. That could coincide with the Colorado Department of Transportation’s planned “gap” project, which would widen and improve the stretch of highway right before it intersects with Main Street.

“We’ve all been trying to get changes made to that Main Street area,” McBride said. “It’s really exciting. CDOT has been wonderful to work with … so ideally it comes together and we get a product that’s best for that whole area right there.”

Carrying the full design to completion would likely take many years, however, and the plan is set to proceed in phases. The first priority is building a new marina office with retail space and bathrooms closer to the water. Construction on that project will likely begin this summer.

That could soon be followed by a new restaurant and bar on the same site, although that could be several years out, McBride said. The marina’s patio bar currently sits across a paved traffic circle from the water, and moving it closer to the lake is another big priority for the town.

“Moving the Lund House and the grill as close to the water’s edge is what you picture for a marina — having your cocktail and hearing the water hit the bulkheads,” Councilman Hunter Mortensen said. “That’s a marina, and that’s what we don’t have right now.”

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