Kayaks, bikes could be rented at Oak Ridge Marina

Melton Lake Park Marina Dock

An Oliver Springs company could replace an existing dock at the Oak Ridge Marina with a kayak dock under a five-year lease that could follow a pilot program. (Submitted photo)

An Oliver Springs company could rent kayaks and bicycles to the public at Melton Lake Park under a contract to be considered by Oak Ridge City Council on Monday.

Adventures Outdoors would use temporary space on Houseboat Row at Melton Lake Park as well as the bar area in the former New China Palace restaurant to rent and store the recreational equipment as part of a pilot program that could lead to a lease agreement.

It’s the next step in implementing a waterfront development plan approved by Oak Ridge City Council in December 2009, Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Director Josh Collins said in a memo to City Manager Mark S. Watson. That plan included key features such as a new picnic pavilion, walking trails, new playground, permanent restrooms, enhanced lighting and landscaping, outdoor casual dining, and recreational equipment rental.

Since then, a new pavilion has been built, the fourth phase of Melton Lake Greenway has been completed, and the municipal staff is re-evaluating the re-use of the New China Palace. City officials told the restaurant owners last summer that the lease would not be renewed this spring.

New China Palace Restaurant

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson last summer said the lease with the New China Palace Restaurant at Melton Lake Park would not be renewed early this year.

Collins said the pilot program will give Adventures Outdoors a chance to establish itself and attract regular customers, and it will give the city a chance to evaluate the need for recreational equipment rentals at the waterfront. The pilot program will be evaluated in December, and if the city’s expectations are met, a five-year lease could be offered. Under the terms of that lease, Adventures Outdoors would have to remove the current marina dock closest to the New China Palace restaurant before the 2014 season, install a smaller dock for kayaks, and pay the city 5 percent of gross revenues.

One- and two-person kayaks would be rented, and so would adult and children’s bicycles. Helmets and life jackets would be issued as required safety equipment with each rental. More equipment could be added later.

Collins said the proposed agreement would grant exclusive rental rights to Adventures Outdoors in return for in-kind labor and materials to refurbish the bar area at the former New China Palace for indoor storage and to perform required upgrades to the existing marina dock. No city investment is expected, he said.

City Council meets at 7 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.

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  • Skirnir Hamilton

    This is the kind of thing we were looking for along Lake Melton Drive, when we moved here from Waukesha, WI in November this past year. Waukesha has a place that rents canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats. They also rent bicycles of all types. Here is the url, if you are curious on how such a thing would operate. http://www.highrollerfunrentals.com

    • http://www.facebook.com/johnhuotari John Huotari

      Thanks for the link. I’ll take a look.

  • Peter Scheffler

    Very good idea! I’d like to kayak now and then but don’t want to own one.

  • Pat Fain

    Hopefully just the beginning of a complete change of focus for Oak Ridge. It is time for the world to see the city of today and to have a large variety of outdoor activities for visitors and residents. Kudos to city manager Mark Watson and staff on this one.

  • Jack C.

    Recommend that bikes be equipped with simple (tricycle) bells so that walkers, runners, and bikers can co-exist better.

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