It took almost 15 years, but boat rentals have finally come to Sahuarita Lake Park.
“We’ve been trying to get an organization or a company to provide boat rentals for a long time, and no one has really stepped forward, or if they had they didn’t really follow through,” said Deborah Summers, Sahuarita’s parks and recreation director.
Since November, Sahuarita Lake Rentals has offered kayaks or pedal boats to visitors who want to go out on the waters of the 10-acre, man-made lake.
The response has been nothing but positive, said Karl Beltz, who owns the business with his wife, Julie.
“People love it. It gives them something else to do and it’s family oriented, so it gets the parents and the kids out,” Beltz said. “And the younger adults love the kayaks.”
Beltz has been selling kayaks, parts and accessories online since 2012, but only recently opened a storefront for TG Watersports on 1097 W. Prince Road. An avid fisherman, he had visited Sahuarita Lake and saw the opportunity.
“I already have stock of kayaks. We had the life vests. I already had the insurance. So I’m already halfway there,” he said. “It seemed like it was an easy bridge to go from where we are now to Sahuarita.”
He had no idea how long the town had been waiting.
When the lake opened in 2001, it was meant to have some kind of a boat-rental program, Summers said, either run by the developer or the town. Neither ended up having much interest in getting into the business.
“We don’t have the resources to buy this kind of equipment and run this kind of operation, so we were looking for a vendor, but we weren’t advertising for it,” she said.
Over the years, several people had expressed interest but nothing ever came of it, said Summers, who’s been with the parks and recreation department for 12 years. The last attempt was canceled after the provider wanted to build a storage structure but found no room in the park for it.
“These folks said, ‘Oh, we’ve got a trailer. We’ll just trailer it down and trailer it back.’ So that’s what they’re doing,” she said.
So far, business has been uneven, Beltz said. As with any outdoor activity, they are at the mercy of the weather, the holidays, the Broncos and the Panthers.
“Super Bowl weekend was horrible. We did six rentals for the whole weekend,” he said. “Valentine’s Day was great. We had 25 rentals that day.”
As the weather warms up, and as more people find out about what they’re doing, Beltz is confident the business will continue to grow and become a fixture.
Once that happens, Summers said, her department is ready to expand services for visitors.
“Eventually, if it works out, we’ll talk about boating lessons or some other kinds of educational things that they can work on with us,” she said.