Developers signed a lease Wednesday that will allow work to start on the parking lot and boat ramp for the first new commercial marina on Lake Cumberland in decades, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The marina will be at Rowena, in Russell County, on the deep lower end of the lake, about four miles upstream from Wolf Creek Dam.
Tony Sloan and Tom Allen, the managing members of Marina at Rowena LLC, signed the lease for the site at a ceremony with Corps of Engineers officials in Nashville, the agency said in a news release.
“There was a lot of effort, a lot of review, a lot of meetings to reach this milestone,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, commander of the Corps’ Nashville District, which includes Lake Cumberland. “Today’s lease signing is very good for the lake and everyone around the lake.”
The agreement covers 407 acres of land and water. The initial lease term is for 25 years, with optional renewals for another 25 years, said Lee Roberts, a spokesman for the corps.
With the papers signed, Sloan and Allen’s company will begin building a parking lot and a boat ramp in the first year of development, the agency said.
The plan is to build the main dock, with 121 slips, and a café later.
Sloan has started work on assembling the dock, said J.D. Hamilton, head of the Lake Cumberland Marina Association.
The site is in Russell County, but access is through Clinton County by way of Ky. 90 and Route 558, said Penny Stearns, a member of the Clinton County Tourism Commission.
The marina is expected to boost visitation on the lake, which is an important part of the local economy.
“I think it will be a great benefit to us,” Stearns said.
Rowena was the site of a ferry crossing on the Cumberland River before the Corps of Engineers completed Wolf Creek Dam to create the lake in the early 1950s.
Federal officials envisioned the site as a marina site decades ago, Sloan said in the Corps of Engineers news release.
Sloan was involved for decades in Grider Hill Marina in Clinton County, which his father started in the 1950s.
Sloan and Allen own Sunset Marina on the Tennessee side of Dale Hollow Lake, which lies in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Rowena will be the 10th marina on Lake Cumberland, said Hamilton, who owns Lee’s Ford Marina Resort in Pulaski County.
There were 11 commercial marinas on the lake before the Corps of Engineers announced an emergency drawdown of the water in early 2007 to to repair leaks that were undermining the dam.
Several of those marinas faced financial problems as visitation suffered during the draw-down, and some of them didn’t survive.
The Corps of Engineers allowed the lake to fill up to the traditional full summer level in 2014, after contractors finished a $600 million repair job on the dam.