Traverse City News and Events

City Commission Delays Vote On River Tour Contract Extension

By Beth Milligan | Jan. 7, 2020

Traverse City commissioners Monday temporarily delayed a vote on approving a new contract with an event organizer who offers kayak brewery tours on the Boardman River in order to answer a handful of outstanding questions about the agreement.

Troy Daily of Paddle For Pints and Kayak, Bike & Brew has had a contract with the city since 2017 to run his events, paying an escalating annual fee designed to mitigate any potential park impacts from tour stops, including at Hull Park and Union Street Dam. With upcoming construction work at the Union Street Dam for the FishPass project set to shut down the only kayak exit on the lower Boardman for two seasons, Daily is proposing making improvements to American Legion Park to create a temporary exit point at that park instead - for both his tours and all other recreational river users.

As part of an updated agreement with the city, Daily would pay the estimated $4,000 to install public stairs and a kayak ramp at the park. He would also pay a few thousands dollars per season to bag two metered parking spaces on Cass Street to create kayak loading zones for both his company and the public. Daily will also increase his annual fees paid to the city from $10,000 annually to $40,000 starting this year, to account for his use of another city park.

Several commissioners - as well as residents during public comment - praised Daily's operations, saying his tours were highly organized and helped participants safely enjoy the Boardman River and patronize local businesses. But some commissioners wanted to see more details on the design for the American Legion Park improvements - particularly for the stairs and kayak ramp - and also questioned occupying two parking spaces for the entire summer to create a loading zone. Mayor Jim Carruthers suggested considering nearby parking lots or spaces on Washington Street, though Daily said the Cass Street spaces were intended to be as close to the river as possible to help reduce the distance kayakers have to drag their heavy vessels to their cars.

Most commissioners expressed a willingness to support the renewed contract in a few weeks - when the issue is set to return before the board - with more supporting details provided by Daily and/or staff on parking and other issues.

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