Culver council debates kayak-paddleboard rentals at town park

Jeff Kenney
Citizen editor

Two new summer offerings in the Culver town park were the subject of some debate at the March 10 meeting of Culver's town council, though both were eventually given the nod with some stipulations attached.

Both new initiatives, planned for the east end of the park later this year, are spearheaded by Ed and Becky Furry of Culver-based Sail22. The first is offered officially by the Maxinkuckee Yacht Club, which plans to offer sailing lessons to area children, with scholarships available to those in need.

Culver park superintendent Marc Hayden told the council the MYC is requesting space to store the boats -- at an inconspicuous space east of the picnic pavilion. The space lease for the operation is on a five-year term, he said, explaining that time frame would give the park time to learn how to train staff and perhaps acquire equipment to take on offering the lessons themselves. Additionally, the MYC has some $30,000 in inventory for the classes on the way from France. That financial commitment, said audience member Tammy Shaffer, president of the park board, was another reason to structure the lease at five years.
He confirmed liability insurance is available and participants need not have a beach pass to take lessons. There is talk of developing camps and other shorter-term sailing lessons in addition to the multi-week sessions expected.

Audience member Russ Mason pointed out the MYC has offered youth lessons for years, though in the past they've launched from pirvate piers elsewhere on the lake. The hope is to offer opportunity to more people by moving it to the park.

The council approved the land use agreement. The park board will create its own contract with the MYC for the endeavor.

Somewhat more contentious was the proposal to grant land use in the same area to Sail22, which council president Ginny Munroe noted is a private business rather than a non-profit like the MYC. Sail22 hopes to offer kayak and paddleboard rental in the same area, with launching aimed for one side of the current courtesy pier at the park's east end, outside the swim buoys.

Hayden said that, when he interviewed last year to take on his superintendent position, sailing and kayaking and potential activities were discussed. At the time, Hayden hadn't been aware of the Lake Max Chalenge paddleboard race each July at the beach, spearheaded by Sail22. Hayden then asked Furry if lessons were a possibility.

Hayden added that, at a January tourism meeting held at the CUlver Cove, "I felt like everybody looked at me and asked what I would do."

Furry, he said, expressed a need to receive 10 percent of the rental proceeds to cover his costs and is "really passionate about" the initiative.

Munroe said the proposal was "troublesome" to her since other area businesses sell or rent kayaks and paddleboards. She suggested the matter be put out to bid. Some audience members expressed agreement, though Reinhold noted no other business had expressed interest in offering rentals in the park.

Hayden said he'd been in contact with Jeff's Power Watercraft on SR 17, which expressed no discomfort with the idea.

Council member Sally Ricciardi expressed concern about the length of time of the lease and that the arrangement eliminated competition or at least weakened it. Councilman Ed Pinder agreed. Council member Dave Beggs suggested putting a bid out for the service, something with which council member Jean Rakich agreed.

The council eventually approved land use for the rentals, but only if the matter were put out for bid.

More information on this discussion and other council actions and discussion will appear in the March 19 print edition of The Culver Citizen, which can also be read via "E" subscription here: