“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, former U.S. Supreme Court justice
A partnership between the city of Victoria and a kayak rental company, Flow Paddle Co., is providing an opportunity to absorb the calming peace and serenity of the Guadalupe River.
And nowadays, a chance to break away, even temporarily, from the tense days of a global pandemic and widespread protests is priceless.
“I wanted to get people back on the water,” said Ashley Magee, owner of Flow Paddle Co. “I think it (the partnership) is a good idea, and it’s going to get people back on the water.”
On June 1, the company began renting kayaks, inner tubes, bikes and offering guided kayaking excursions along the 4.5-mile stretch of the Guadalupe River that hugs the west side of Riverside Park.
The new business is inside the Parks and Recreation building near the Rose Garden in Riverside Park, 476 McCright Drive. The city will continue to use part of the building for storage while renting space to Flow Paddle Co.
This is the first time the city has worked with an outside company to offer kayaking in Riverside Park since Gerry’s Kayaks closed almost three years ago, according to a city news release.
“Partnering with a private business allows the city to offer services we might not be able to provide otherwise. It’s a win-win-win for us, the business owner and the community,” said the city’s Parks & Recreation Director Jason Alfaro.
This public-private partnership is a great idea on several levels. Anyone who enjoys the outdoors and appreciates the natural beauty of the river is about to have another amazing experience.
Magee purchased the fleet of kayaks from Gerry’s Kayaks owner Gerry Wyant, whose business in Riverside Park struggled after Hurricane Harvey.
“When I found out that he wasn’t going to reopen after Harvey, I pondered over it for a few months, discussed it with my family and friends and decided that opening a new kayak business was something I really wanted to do,” Magee said.
She attended an Explore Victoria Texas meeting in February hosted by the city and met with Danielle Williams, then the interim director of Parks & Recreation, about the possibility of opening her business in Riverside Park. After further discussions, Magee was able to set up in the former administrative space.
Magee said the business is taking off like a speedboat. She is already seeing her customer base grow, the number of her Facebook followers increase, and ideas of how to expand her business are surfacing daily.
I expect to stay pretty busy,” she said.
Kayakers put in at the boat ramp at Riverside Park and exit the river at a ramp near the PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar. Afterward, the kayaks are taken back to the company’s base for a thorough cleaning process before they are rented again.
So far, Magee’s business has captured the attention of customers from Laredo, Houston and El Campo. She expects that hometown list to grow a lot. A new Victoria resident from Michigan has already traveled the river as well as a visitor from Florida.
With that trend, Flow Paddle Co. will be a great promoter for the city and region.
Alfaro said creative strategies such as public-private partnerships will be crucial as Parks & Recreation moves forward developing its new master plan.
“We’ll be gathering feedback from residents about the types of programs and services they’d like to see,” he said. “Even if we don’t have the internal staff or resources to provide something residents want, we can still think outside the box to expand our city’s recreation amenities.”
That is a good strategy.
“Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing.” Many attribute this quote to philosopher Henry David Thoreau, but its origin has not been verified.
We’re pretty sure whoever said it would have gone kayaking, too – on the Guadalupe River.
Note: This editorial was updated to reflect the origin of the quote about canoeing.