Zilker boat rental about to sink

After decades of service along the shores of Town Lake, it looks like there may be no gold watch for the proprietors of Zilker Park Boat Rentals. The couple who germinated the whole canoe rental idea in 1969 have now been outbid by two other proposals and are in danger of losing their business.

The current concessionaires, the Barnetts, make their case on their website. It’s easy to get caught up in loyalty and nostalgia about this issue, but realistically, what exactly does the city expect from a new rental provider: Soy lattes? Chauffeured boating? It’s difficult to see a demand-side argument for changing suppliers, especially since the Barnetts identified the need in the first place, and presumably have the best insight into meeting it given their 36 years of experience. I’m assuming this comes down to increased concession fees and the city’s desperation to find parks funding, but that’s a bit callous without having seen the competing proposals or bid requirements.

The City Council will ultimately decide the fate of the Zilker boat rental concession on December 15th. Post your thoughts here, or contact the council if you have any lucid thoughts one way or another.

PS A neighbor forwarded a link about “curb rights.” The article specifically addresses transit, but applies to any clunky government bidding processes such as this.

2 Comments so far

  1. Jorge (unregistered) on November 26th, 2005 @ 9:59 am

    Can we start a petition or something?

  2. Howard Barnett (unregistered) on November 26th, 2005 @ 10:09 am

    Thanks for the post.
    I have documentation that we have rebuffed by the City whenever we proposed something new.

    We also tripled the anticipated revenue to the City for the contract. We don’t have a clue as to what is going on. We just know that our business is being confiscated by the City and given to someone else. In the real world, a value would be placed on the business, and it could be sold.

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