ROXBURY, NJ – With weekend temperatures expected to reach almost 90 degrees, the weather should be perfect for a kayak or canoe trip around Horseshoe Lake in Succasunna.
A proposal that would allow Ramsey Outdoor to rent canoes, kayaks and paddleboards at the township owned park seemed to be on course for approval last month. Ramsey told the township it wanted to begin the rentals on May weekends.
But nobody at town hall sent the paperwork to the township attorney for review and now Ramsey officials doubt they will have enough time to provide the rentals this summer.
"The problem is it's getting very late to try to put a program together," Ramsey Outdoor President Stuart Levine said today. "We have to go out and purchase boats and hire people and train staff."
A resolution awarding a contract to Ramsey for the rentals was on the agenda at the May 23 township council meeting. An approval there might have enabled the company, which has a store in Roxbury Mall, to be renting the equipment by Memorial Day.
However, at the meeting, the resolution was tabled at the request of Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall after Roxbury Township Attorney Anthony Bucco said he needed to review the contract and other paperwork. Although Ramsey signed those papers May 3, nobody sent them to the township attorney.
“I don’t feel comfortable right now moving forward until Tony has a chance to look at it,” Hall said at the meeting.
In the interview today, Hall said the matter was stalled because “Tony Bucco had not had a chance to review it,” adding the township “can’t move forward until such time as our attorney has reviewed the terms and conditions” of the contract.
“There has to be a contract put in place between us and Ramsey specifying the terms between us and them,” Hall said. Those terms would include “service levels, what’s going to be their hours of operation, where are they going to store the boats and other details, he said. “All this has to be stipulated in some sort of memorandum of understanding,” Hall said. “We have to have an agreement.”
Contacted today, Bucco said he'd still not received the papers to review. But then, in the middle of the interview, the documents arrived in an email he received on his phone, he said.
Unfortunately, for Ramsey - and anyone hoping to rent a watercraft on Horseshoe Lake anytime soon - Bucco said he received the papers too late to have the matter included on the agenda of the June 13 council meeting. The council meets every two weeks, meaning the rental plan - if given a legal OK by Bucco - likely won't see a vote until June 27.
That's probably too late for Ramsey to move forward this year.
"The point is it's very tough to react once summers here," Levine said. "We told them we are going to buy all new boats and all new equipment for this. It's getting very late in the season. That's our main problem. You only have so many weeks and so many weekends. It does present a bit of a problem ... If they tell us June 27, I don’t think we could be up and running until the middle of July at that point."
On May 3, Ramsey approved a notarized “Concession Agreement” that was provided by the township. A “contract” was mentioned in a May 16 interoffice memo from Roxbury Township Purchasing Agent Valerie Wyble to former Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths.
In that memo, Wyble told Raths the request for proposals (RFP) issued by the township – to which Ramsey responded – “included a contract which was prepared by the township attorney.” Wyble also said “insurance requirements were approved and reviewed by the township’s risk manager.”
In the May 3 response to Roxbury’s RFP, Ramsey detailed many aspects of the boat rental operation, noting it currently runs a similar program at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve. The company said it wanted to begin renting watercraft on weekends in May “and daily from approximately the first week of June through Labor Day.”
Ramsey said it would provide eight to 10 kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards, charging $20 per hour and $10 for every extra hour. The company offered to donate to the township either $1,000 worth of merchandise or gift cards “to be used for whatever fundraiser or events the town would like.”
It also offered to participate in lake and trail cleanup projects, offer a “free paddle day” and demonstrate an “ability and willingness to work closely with the township on any other events or programs during the year.”
Bucco said the rental plan might have been an unanticipated victim of confusion at town hall due to Rath's retirement on May 31. He was replaced by new Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd who, contacted today, said he knew nothing about the Horseshoe Lake rental proposal.
Hall said he remains enthused about the idea, despite the delay. “I think this will be a nice offering for the residents of Roxbury Township,” he said. But at this point, it might have to wait until next summer, according to Levine.
"I certainly don’t want to seem ungracious in any way shape or form," he said. "We’re still excited to work with the town and optimistic that if they say 'yes,' we believe they are going to be happy with the product we put out on the water. It will be a win-win for the town and the people."