Kayaks, paddleboards coming to Lake Tapps

Kayaks and paddleboards will soon be able to be rented from the Allan Yorke Park concession stand. Photo by Ray Still

This summer could potentially be one of Lake Tapps’ busiest years as Bonney Lake is now contracting with a new concessions stand and water sports rental business.

The City Council unanimously approved a three-year contract with Ruston Recreational Rentals during the April 11 meeting.

“I’m looking forward to serving your community and maybe hiring some of your young people to help them,” co-owner Don Torbet said at the meeting. “I’m getting pretty old to lift this stuff.”

According to the corresponding resolution, the city consistently lost money on other concession agreements when not enough revenue was generated to cover the city’s costs.

For the last ten years, concessions at the park has been run by the Bonney Lake Food Bank.

Because the food bank is a non-profit, the city did not charge them for operating concessions, but that also means the city was not being reimbursed.

And even before the food bank took over concessions, the city was losing money.

“Nobody was able to make enough,” said Gary Leaf, the city’s special project manager. “It’s cost us on average $3,000 a year.”

Leaf said the city’s Parks Commission noticed a lack of activity at the park last summer and wanted to find a new concessionaire who could also rent out kayaks or paddle boards to draw in more visitors.

Gary approached the city of Tacoma for recommendations, and they pointed him straight to Torbet.

Torbet and his wife Beth have been running a sea kayak business since 1998 in Ruston and has been serving the Owen Beach area at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma since 1999.

In a letter to the city, Torbet said more than 6000 people rented paddle boards from them in 2016.

The city expects to bring in between $3,000 to $5,000 from this venture.

“If anybody can make it, it’ll be this fellow,” Leaf said.

According to his contract with the city, Torbet has to be open and operating by Memorial Day, but he said in a phone interview that he wants to be open as soon as possible, and is aiming for April 22.

Besides the concessions, which are likely to include hot dogs, water, soda, chips and frozen desserts, Torbet said he’ll be starting with 20 kayaks and four paddleboards.

“And if they go fast, I’ll just buy more,” he said.