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Village will seek new outfitter for kayak rentals

Those expecting to rent a kayak during the Labor Day weekend from Porterdale Yak Club found the business’s doors closed.

On the club’s Facebook page, a message said the closure was permanent:

“Thank you for the tremendous support during the last five years! Our goal was to bring the accessibility of kayaking the Yellow River for all to experience and enjoy. Thanks to each of you this goal has been overwhelming met, good job!”

The announcement included a notice that the club's kayaks would go up for sale on Sept. 1. By 10 a.m. that morning, the kayaks were all sold.

According to Porterdale City Manager Bob Thomson, the operators of the business, Lamar and Kimberly Brown, didn’t say why they opted to end their contract with the village. “They were doing a great business,” he said. “They seemed to rent a lot of kayaks, especially on Saturdays.”

Porterdale Main Street Director Josephine Kelly said, “We really appreciate everything they have done – the river clean up and making the river accessible to people.”

Currently, she said, the village is working on a Request for Proposal (RFP) for an outfitter. “Our goal is to have an outfitter that is able to shuttle to the different access points [to the Yellow River].

Kelly said the different access points were Abe’s Landing, just off I-20 at Almon Road, a two-and-a-half-hour paddle to the access site at Yellow River Park, and the Mt. Taber Road access point in the Almon Community, near Berry Tree Farm, a four-and-a-half-hour paddle to the Yellow River Park.

“With the development and the interest of the disk golf course we see as an opportunity for the outfitter to provide disks and partner with the city in that development,” she said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to make the area around The Depot a gathering point.”

A disk golf course opened earlier this year and along the river at Yellow River Park.

Kelly said tourism development recommendations for building Porterdale’s economy included creating additional services connected to kayak rental, including guided tours on the river to offering corporate team building retreats. She said that, while the Yak Club operated primarily on weekends, “we see a demand throughout the week and also in the evening for people to be on the river until dusk.”

The Browns would not comment about their decision to close the Yak Club.