Beginning this summer, visitors to Sandy Beach will have a new way to enjoy the Rock Lake, as the park will be home to a self-service kayak and paddle board rental station.
Lake Mills is entering an agreement with Madison-based provider Surf Shack to install watercraft lockers at the beach that visitors can access through the company’s app. The city council voted unanimously to approve the deal at its March 7 meeting.
Eric Schreiner, parks and forestry director for Lake Mills, told the council that his department has heard requests in the past for this type of service, and he thought it would be well-used.
“I agree with you, I think it will be used. There are people who would really enjoy this opportunity,” Alder Liesa Kerler said.
The new service comes at no cost to the city, and will even bring in a small amount of revenue. Lake Mills will pay no start-up or operational fees, and Surf Shack will forward 10% of the station’s profits to the city.
The council voted to select Surf Shack over a second possible provider, the Michigan-based Rent.Fun, citing the financial ease and lack of start-up costs for Surf Shack. Schreiner added he had heard positive things from Lake Kegonsa and Governor Nelson state parks, which also use Surf Shack.
“All we need to do is provide them the space to set up,” Schreiner said. “They do everything, and we get a small portion of the revenue. It was the easiest choice for everybody involved.”
Once the station is installed, users would pay for a rental through Surf Shack’s app and receive a code to access the watercraft lockers. Instructions will be posted at the station.
The station will be open between May and October and host five single kayaks, one double kayak and four paddle boards, according to a city memo. Rental rates are expected to be $12 for the first hour and then $9 per hour for paddle boards and single kayaks. Double kayaks will be $5 per hour more expensive.
The city’s current contract with Surf Shack is for only one year. Schreiner called this summer a “trial run,” with the possibility of continuing the service into the future.