The Lodi Lake Boathouse may soon partner with a new, private vendor. Aiming to revitalize Lodi Lake Park’s aquatic activities, the Lodi Recreation Commission decided on Tuesday to seek a concessionaire for the city-run shop.
The commission had originally planned to discuss an agreement with the Lodi-based Headwaters Kayak Shop, but interest from Sacramento’s Adventure Sports Rentals prompted staff to open up a broad request for proposals.
The boathouse will remain city property under any agreement, said Jeff Hood, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, with the new business selling equipment — including kayaks, boats and paddle boards — and providing classes, tours and events.
A new partnership would not only bring better quality and variety to the boathouse’s selections, Hood said, which are “probably 13 to 15 years old,” but would also expand recreational opportunities.
Current kayak instruction by the boathouse is minimal, Hood said, while use of city-owned equipment is confined to Lodi Lake. A private business with no such restriction would allow use along the Mokelumne River, a popular destination for paddling and kayaking.
Commissioner Jeff Palmquist said the boathouse and park would benefit from a private business’s marketing.
“That would increase the visibility of Lodi Lake and the services we offer there,” he said. “Their success is our success and vice versa.”
As of Tuesday, the only businesses to express interest have been Headwaters and Adventure Sports, with both owners speaking at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I saw the boathouse as an important aspect of the community, and also saw it as not up to where it could be,” said Headwaters owner Dan Arbuckle, who founded the shop in 2010. “I want to see new equipment in there, adding paddle boards, paddle kayaks and fishing kayaks. I want to give people opportunities to come out and try new things.”
Arbuckle, whose shop-sponsored Lodi Paddle Club hosts social events at the lake, sees activities through the boathouse as a way to promote tourism.
“(The Mokelumne River) is really, truly a jewel,” he said. “It’s perfect for kayaks. We see the booming interest in kayaking as key for Lodi tourism, as well. We can get people to explore the wineries, maybe stay another day.”
Adventure Sports has been in the retail business for 21 years and done concessions for the past 15, with shops in Sacramento and Big Break Marina in Oakley. Owner Carl Haussman said he looked forward to submitting a concession proposal for the boathouse.
“(Lodi) is a beautiful town and it’s a beautiful facility,” he said.
Contact reporter Ed Yevelev at firstname.lastname@example.org.