Kayak rental coming to Wayfarers
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: May 25, 2016

A new kayak rental concessionaire is slated to take the helm at Wayfarers State Park in Bigfork this month, but a longtime local business is worried the playing field isn’t fair any more.

Do you think the state should be pursuing lucrative gigs to get funding? Or does this go too far to prohibit local business?


This was posted by Base Camp Bigfork earlier this week:

Dear Bigfork, supporters of our business Base Camp Bigfork, and visitors of Wayfarers State Park:

We would like to inform you of a major change taking place at Wayfarers State Park and how it will negatively affect our business and possibly your experience as a park user.

The managers of this park have decided they want to provide a concession, on the beach, that will exclusively provide all of the kayak and paddle board rentals in the park. This change would no longer allow for businesses, like ours, to provide kayak and paddle board rentals in the park by means of delivery. Our business, as well as others, have been built on providing these services and now one month before peak season they are informing us that we will no longer be able to do so. The result of this concession contract effectively creates a monopoly where one business will no longer face competition and patrons of the park will have only one choice of who to rent from.

The selection of the concessionaire was based on a bid process that park managers have admittedly stated was flawed and was awarded to the highest bidder (26% of revenue to return to the park).
As you can imagine, we have been seeking a resolution to this change from when we were first informed, March 21st. After enough persistence we have made some headway and the park managers have renegotiated the contact, with the selected vendor, to allow for us to deliver our gear four days a week and the vendor was able to lower the revenue back to the park to 16%. They have completely changed the entire original contract and have told me there is nothing else they can do.

So, we are now wanting to inform all of you that under this new system, that didn’t become finalized until May 11th, we will no longer be able to deliver kayaks and paddle boards to Wayfarers State Park Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. That means you will no longer have a choice to what business you would like to support unless you drive the gear down yourselves.
Our business provided the bulk of these services before and this will have a major impact on our ability to be successful in a community where many businesses are supported by a short tourism season. This is a two year contract and we hope our business can sustain this untimely change. Park managers claim these changes are necessary to reduce congestion, provide a better service for park patrons, and to generate additional revenue for the park. From the beginning, we requested multiple times to be part of this decision making process and conversation. Our questions and concerns were never considered. We were also informed that public comment wasn’t required. Being that I have a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism I have a respect and understanding for the challenges park managers face. As a business owner and member of this community I understand the need to fully consider how these changes will affect everyone invested in this park. We are now asking all of you for your support to voice your concerns as to how this change will affect local businesses, your park experience, and our community. We understand that changes need to happen, addressing the challenges of this popular park, but let us all have the opportunity to address solutions to these challenges in the best way possible.

Thank you for your support,
The Schurke Family

Please share this post, leave a comment and contact the following people below.

Park decision makers:
Chas Van Genderen – Administrator Montana State Parks (406) 444-3751 email: cvangenderen@mt.gov
Dave Landstrom – Region 1 Park Manager (406) 751-4574 email: dlandstrom@mt.gov
Amy Grout – Manager Wayfarers State Park (406) 837-3041 ext. 3 email: agrout@mt.gov

Community supporters of our business:
Bigfork Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork – chamber@bigfork.org (406) 837-5888

State Legislatures:
Bob Keenan- bob@bobkeenan.us
Mark Nolan- http://leg.mt.gov/…/Between-Se…/Messaging/legwebmessage.asp…