The City opens up bidding for Stow Lake operations

Golden Gate Park site known for pedal boats has been run by same company for 63 years

The little boats that pedal around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park could soon be rented out by a new operator.

The City’s Recreation and Park Department on Monday will open a request for proposals for a new 10-year lease to operate the snack shop, the rental bicycles and the boats at Stow Lake. The lease will contain several new terms and will take over for a 15-year agreement with the Stow Lake Corporation that expires Nov. 30. The company, which has managed both the boats and the snack shop for 63 years, can reapply to operate at the site but must face competition.

If the lease is awarded to a new management company, the lake could be without its boats for some time, although the Recreation and Park Department believes the scenario is unlikely.

“It’s not in our interest to have a vacant facility,” Recreation and Park Commissioner Jim Lazarus said.

The commission will examine bids to operate the scenic lake in November. If a new manager is chosen for the boats, they would be expected to be in place by the time the weather warms up and slow rides across the lake become popular again.

Bruce McMillan of the Stow Lake Corporation said the winter months are a difficult time for his company financially, and to keep them afloat he needs to recuperate his costs in the warmer months. He wanted his current lease to be extended one year, which was allowed under the lease if agreed upon by both parties, but the Recreation and Park Commission denied that request.

Under the new request for a proposal, the rent would be a percentage of the operator’s revenue instead of a $120,000 minimum rent per year as it is under the lease. Also, the operator could get up to $10,000 a year in rental credits for the life of the lease to make necessary improvements to the site, such as making the snack shop compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. All improvements would have to be preapproved by the Recreation and Park Commission. There would also be an option to extend the lease by five years after it expired.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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