This letter is regarding our new concession operation at the Bear Lake State Park Marina, which we will be calling “Marina Rentals”. We are very excited to be the new concessionaire, and we will be providing more products and services than has ever been offered before at the marina. We will be offering rentals of a variety of boats, Sea-Doo’s, a plethora of non-motorized equipment, UTV side-by-side rentals, bicycle rentals, full fast-food restaurant (and shakes) with a dining area on top of our floating building with spectacular views, a pro-shop with a large selection of boating items for sale, ethanol-free gasoline for sale at our gas dock, boat cleaning and detailing services, boat valet service, on-site marine mechanic service, boat winterizations and shrink wrapping, and the list goes on as we continually add services.
We have already opened for the summer season, and our new floating dock facilities are almost complete. There has been a great buzz about the marina, and we’ve received thousands of positive comments. Unfortunately, there will always be the few public naysayers who don’t understand how the State Park system works regarding concessionaires and commercial activities within the parks. Therefore, let me to explain how this system works.
Every State Park in Utah that has commercial concessions holds a public bid every certain amount of years for the concession rights. These bids are conducted by the State of Utah Division of Purchasing in Salt Lake, an independent third party agency who insures the bid is fair, and that the state’s extensive procurement rules are followed. There is certain criteria established for the bids, and a scoring system is based on the bidder’s ability to fulfill the various aspects of the criteria. Anybody is free to submit a bid, but it usually takes hundreds of hours to complete a full package bid.
My company was selected as the winning bidder for the Bear Lake Marina concession out of four bidders from a competitive bid that was held last fall. This means that we have the right to conduct commercial activity within the park through our contract with the State. Our concession contract is very exclusive, yet we have, and will give others a chance to also participate in commercial ventures at the marina. If others wish to conduct commercial activity within the park, there is the possibility to work through us (and the state park) as a subcontractor. So far, we already have a couple of businesses signed up to provide certain commercial services at the marina.
We had been planning the last two months on partnering with a certain local fishing charter company to provide guided fishing tours from the marina. Unfortunately, we were informed by this company recently that they were no longer interested. We had done everything in our power to make this partnership happen, including offering free commercial dock space at our new floating concession facilities for two fishing boats, free advertising, and a discount on gasoline for the fishing boats. The fee to be paid was to go to the state park, not to us. As the concessionaire for the park, we are required to pay both a percentage fee on gross sales, in addition to a large annual fixed fee. The single proposed percentage fee for the fishing charter company was essentially equal to these two fees together, without a separate annual fee. There wasn’t any monetary gain in it for our company, but our hope was that this would bring in more customers to our business location, which might eventually benefit us. This was going to actually cost us some money because of our increased insurance cost for adding a subcontractor to our insurance policy.
Regardless of the current situation, we will be offering fishing tours at the marina in the future. We will either offer the tours ourselves, or if anybody is interested in becoming a coast guard licensed captain, please come talk to us about the possibilities. We believe there’s a great potential for guided activities at Bear Lake.
In order to put the information out there for the public, I have included the specific State Park rules regarding commercial activity within State Parks. For example, if a person from the public rents equipment from somewhere else and brings it into the park for their own use, it’s perfectly fine and legitimate to do that. It’s when a business itself, or its employees, come into a State Park and conduct commercial activity such as delivering, launching equipment for the customer, or loading passengers for hire that it’s in violation of the rules.
R651-635-1. No Commercial Activity in Park Areas without Specific Written Authorization.
No commercial activity may be conducted on any park area managed or owned by the division unless the division has provided specific written authorization for that activity.
R651-601-12. Commercial Activity.
“Commercial Activity” means any activity, private or otherwise, that is for the purpose of commercial gain, or that is part of any scheme or plan established for the purpose of obtaining commercial gain. This includes, but is not limited to:
(1) sales of goods or merchandise.
(2) rentals of equipment.
(3) collection of entrance or admission fees.
(4) collection of storage or use fees.
(5) sales of services.
(6) delivery service of rental equipment to the park area by a rental agency as part of a customer rental.
R651-601-13. Commercial Gain.
“Commercial gain” means compensation in money, services, or other consideration as part of a scheme or effort to generate income or financial advantage of any kind.
The State Park is not restricting public access, but rather regulating business and commercial activities within the park. While some may think the State Park has these rules to generate revenue for the park, it’s a greater and more important issue to protect the Park and the State of Utah from a risk management and insurance perspective in the case of an accident and a potential law suit if an accident (or poor services) were to occur. These are the types of things that a lot of people don’t think about until they happen.
As the new concessionaire for the Bear Lake State Park Marina, we are confident that we will meet and exceed all expectations. This last weekend we did a huge amount of business at the marina, in fact more business than our other 5 Bear Lake locations combined. We have more reservations for the marina than any of our other locations, and we are fully prepared to fulfill those reservations in a top-notch manner. The public in general is extremely excited about what we’re doing at the marina, and so are we. Our new marina concession will be featured on the KUTV morning show with Casey on July 9th with three segments being broadcast live from the marina.