Paddle boats in limbo
Pat Smith has spent 21 years renting paddle boats and selling shaved ice out of a small, gray shack on a piece of city-owned land at Ninth and B streets.
But for now, the boats that children rush to during summer vacation sit idle, clustered in the south end of Ellis Lake.
It's unclear when they'll be up and running again. Marysville planners are figuring out if they can relocate the paddle boat concession, a long-standing city staple, as it makes way for new development there.
Smith shut down her operation last week and is waiting to hear from the city about what will happen next. She said she hopes the city can help her relocate to another part of the lake.
"It is most of my income now," she said. "It will hurt me if I don't get to reopen."
Early last month, the city sold the land to a Chico-based developer for $750,000. Within the week, crews could break ground on a new retail and dining center that will replace the abandoned Marysville Recreation Building.
Under the agreement between the city and Main & Main Properties, LP, the developer is responsible for relocating the lake's boat ramp. But neither the city nor the developer is obligated to find a new place for the paddle boat concession.
The City Council on Tuesday asked staff to come up with a cost estimate should the city choose to help the boat rental business. Estimates fall in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.
"At this point, all we want to do is find out the cost," said Mayor Bill Harris.
But he said he hopes the city can work something out.
"I think the paddle boats are good. I think it's a real positive thing for the city," he said. "But the cost is what we have to look at."
In the meantime, the boats are in limbo.
Smith and her husband started renting a couple of paddle boats on July 4, 1984, and since then the pastime they offered grew in popularity.
During the summer, the boats were available five days a week. There were often long waiting lists to snag one of the 12 boats on those sunny days, she said.
"It's just something different to do," she said. "And every year you have a new crop of people."
But she said she supports the move to develop the land into a retail center, which she thinks might provoke the city to make the lake more attractive.
"I'm sure it's going to help Marysville, and it might help with keeping the lake up with more people being over there," she said.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Thigpen can be reached at 749-4713. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.