By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Larry Plummer had a hunch that renting kayaks at two of the city’s parks could prove popular. After one week, it looks as if the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Superintendent was correct.
In what is believed to be the first city in Indiana to do so, Warsaw officials on Tuesday, June 7, celebrated the establishment of an automated kayak kiosk service at Center Lake and Pike Lake with a ribbon-cutting at the Center Lake Pavilion.
The rental service relies on an online app that allows users to access kayaks and other equipment at an hourly rate. One hour of use will cost $15. Four hours is $40.
The service is provided by RentFun.com, which allows users to access and rent the kayaks with the use of an app. Details of how to do that are posted on the kiosk.
Plummer said officials with RentFun told him it’s the first such kiosk in Indiana. The program began in Ohio where kiosks are now being established in state parks.
Plummer began investigating the idea and reached out to the parks department in Toledo, Ohio, which was the first community to use the system. The reaction there was strong, he said.
The city worked with the Kosciusko County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission to secure the $29,600 in funding from the county’s innkeeper’s tax revenue to pay for the kiosks at Center and Pike.
The cages that house the kayaks and equipment were recently installed with minimal publicity.
In the first seven days, 63 people rented the new kayaks, Plummer said.
Plummer said the service is a game-changer.
While many people would probably like to try using a kayak, the cost of buying one and the complications of transporting them have prevented many from trying it. With the new service, that’s no longer a problem.
“This gives everybody an opportunity to come to the lake, use a kayak and enjoy it whether they own one or not,” Plummer said.
Mayor Joe Thallemer was one of many at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m stunned by how many people have rented these already,” Thallemer said
The online system keeps records of all users to ensure they return the equipment. Cameras are also set up to monitor activities around the kiosks, Plummer said.