Paddlecraft racks to provide affordable access to waterfronts

Jul 15, 2017
Courtesy of: Glenn Ruesswick Paddle racks are being offered for rent to store kayaks, SUPs and canoes at both salt and freshwater locations in Camden.

Camden — Beginning in fall 2016, the Camden Parks & Recreation Department and Committee, in consultation with town residents and relevant department heads, proposed to dramatically improve safety, enjoyment and utilization of Camden’s fresh and saltwater recreation access areas (aka parks) by providing improved access while generating significant, desperately-needed future funding for the Parks & Recreation Department.

This is being accomplished by installing and annually renting spaces on paddle sport racks in up to six select locations throughout Camden.

This concept has been proven effective for many years in Rockport and Belfast. Both towns have waiting lists for their rack space and cannot offer the diversity of fresh and saltwater access sites like Camden.

For the last eight to 10 years, the Parks & Recreation Department has longed for the ability to enhance the paddling public’s access to Camden’s fresh and marine waterfront.

Through efforts of the Parks & Recreation Committee and the Parks Department, working with local entrepreneurs much safer, faster, secure access and waterside storage is finally at hand for the 2017 boating season. Interested parties can go to paddlesportrackco.com to learn more and immediately rent their space.

Public safety is currently compromised as full-time residents and seasonal visitors alike struggle to load and unload canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, etc. from rooftop racks on road sides and launch site parking areas. In fact, Camden Police were repeatedly summoned to Bog Bridge on Route 105 in 2016 due to accidents and parking violations related to the volume and mix of vehicle, power boat and self-powered craft users during peak summer weekends.

Overwhelmingly, the greatest frustration expressed in response to the question, “What is limiting you from accessing Camden’s water recreation resources more regularly?” posed at various launch sites during informal surveys during the spring, summer and fall of 2016 was, “The time and challenge of safely putting my boat on and off my car four times each day I want to paddle.”

As a solution, Camden is deploying locally-crafted multi-sport Paddle Sport Racks at select parks, using the well-established dingy space rental model of Camden any many other coastal municipalities. Rack locations include Hosmer Pond (complimenting the fully accessible paddle craft launching dock system installed in 2017), Laite Beach and the Public Landing; Bog Bridge (Route 105) boat launch and Barrett’s Cove on Lake Megunticook; and Shirttail Point Park on the Megunticook River. Each rack features nine spaces for canoes, kayaks, SUP’s(stand up paddleboards) or even small sailboats/windsurfers with integrated locks right at the waterside.

Convenient, affordable and secure waterside rack spaces are being rented to interested parties each year from May 1 to Nov. 1 via Paddle Sport Rack Co.

The racks will generate revenue to Camden totaling roughly $60,000 and $90,000 for further parks enhancements over the next 15 years. (Note: Due to an oversight the rack purchase was inadvertently not included in the 2017 Town Parks & Rec. Budget therefore the paddle sport racks are temporarily being deployed privately via a revocable lease in the first year.)

The entrepreneurs now recognize the much wider applicability of the rental rack system to other municipalities, sporting camps, private waterfront homeowners, campgrounds, lake associations, etc. as a way to enhance access and eliminate unnecessary congestion.

The following officials' tireless work in support of the ultimately successful effort to bring these paddlecraft racks to fruition; Beth Ward – Park & Recreation Director, Bill O’Donnell – Chief Code Enforcement Officer, Lowrie Sargent – Planning Board, Chair, Steve Pixley – Harbor Master, Karen Brace – Community Development Director, and Dale Dougherty – Megunticook Lake Warden.

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