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A kayak/canoe launch structure will be built in a small, calm inlet on Cypress Creek at the city's kayak/canoe access point off Cox Creek Parkway. [RUSS COREY/TIMESDAILY]

FLORENCE — It's not uncommon to see the parking lot of the Cypress Creek Canoe and Kayak Access Point nearly full to capacity on warm weekends.

The city purchased the property at the intersection of Cox Creek Parkway and Jackson Road in 2018, and added a paved, striped, fenced and landscaped parking lot.

One of the additional amenities planned at that time is expected to be constructed this summer.

Mike Doyle, director of the Florence Gas, Water and Wastewater Department, said the Tennessee Valley Authority is contributing $20,000 toward the construction of a canoe/kayak launch structure on the banks of Cypress Creek.

"I had talked to Derek (South) some time back and they wanted to do a project with us," Doyle said.

South is a TVA recreation specialist based in the Shoals.

Doyle said South helped secure TVA funds for the project.

A paved walkway leads from the parking lot to the edge of the creek, but the property near and beneath the bridge on Alabama 133 is Alabama Department of Transportation property.

Doyle said he and South visited the area and found a good spot to construct the concrete launch structure.

He said a small inlet to the left of the walkway that will provide a calm area to launch canoes or kayaks.

"It's going to be a concrete structure similar to what we have at the takeout point (at Wildwood Park), but not as steep," Doyle said.

The takeout ramp at Wildwood Park was built by the Florence Water and Wastewater Department in 2009 with the help of a $3,000 grant from the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council.

It was a joint project of the city of Florence, TVA, Garver Engineers of Florence, and Alabama Outdoors.

Spokesman Scott Fiedler said TVA is involved in a partnership with the city to promote recreation on waterways in the Tennessee Valley.

"What these launches do is help bring in tourists," Fiedler said. "We know recreation on our waterways is worth $12 billion and 130,000 jobs a year."

He and Doyle said they expect the project to be completed this summer.

The city purchased the property in 2018 after the state expressed concern over the amount of vehicles parking on the state right of way. It now owns the rectangular lot from Cox Creek Parkway to Cox Creek and over to Cypress Creek and back up along the creek.

Doyle said future plans include a walking trail that will lead from the parking lot to Cox Creek, along Cypress Creek and back to the parking lot. He said he would also like to add restrooms at some point.

The Florence City Council could discuss the contract for the canoe launch during its Tuesday meeting.

"If the council approves the agreement, which I'm sure they will, my next step is to contact whoever gets the contract," Doyle said.

He said the estimated cost is $20,000, but Doyle said the city will cover anything above that amount.

Doyle said TVA will reimburse the city up to $20,000.

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