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Village board tables marketing plan for Suamico Paddle

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

SUAMICO – A plan to have the village market a private business renting kayaks and paddleboards at Fireman’s Park is on hold for now.

The Suamico village board voted 3-2 Monday, July 6, to table action and refer the plan back to staff for additional clarification as to the marketing involved with the village’s relationship with Suamico Paddle LLC (Paramount Physical Therapy and Performance Training).

Trustees Steve Andrews, Sky Van Rossum and Mike Schneider backed the motion, while Village President Laura Nelson and Trustee Michelle Eckert, who opposed promoting one business over another, voted against tabling the matter for further review. Trustees Jason Ward and Dan Roddan were absent.

Village Administrator Alex Kaker said he met about a year ago with Paramount’s owner about a potential partnership with the village’s canoe and kayak launch at Fireman’s Park.

Suamico Recreation Director Leah Hackmaster presents the village board Monday, July 6, with a proposal for marketing kayak and paddleboard rentals for Suamico Paddle at Fireman’s Park.

Over the past few months Recreation Director Leah Hackmaster has been working out the agreement’s details.

Hackmaster said the initial agreement would be for one year, because Suamico Paddle wants to see how the rental business goes this fiscal year and then re-evaluate the arrangement.

She said the proposed agreement calls for the village to receive 20 percent of the gross sales from kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals in the first year.

Hackmaster said Suamico Paddle currently doesn’t have any canoes, but could also rent those out in the future.

“We are hoping that they are going to be using our park, and it’s going to bring some tourists over to the area and to downtown,” she said.

Kaker said the agreement would bring in for revenue for the village to pay for the maintenance of Fireman’s Park and also help promote local businesses in Suamico.

He said the proposed marketing plan included the village making pamphlets at a minimal cost and social media posts.

“Any costs (for marketing) will definitely be covered by the 20 percent of their gross sales,” Kaker said.

Eckert said she opposed entering into the agreement because Fireman’s Park is already packed this summer.

“I guess I don’t want to promote it anymore,” she said. “It’s already busy as can be, and the second reason I’m not really for this is I don’t want to be helping out one business over another.”

Nelson agreed with Eckert.

“They’re more than capable of doing their own marketing,” she said. “I don’t think any business has to come to the village to do its marketing for them.”

Schneider said having the village help out one business can become “an entangled web.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea to start promoting one business over another,” he said. “I like (Suamico Paddle). I hope they do really well. I just think it sets us up for a precedent that I don’t think we really need.”

Van Rossum said the agreement with Suamico Paddle would be a private-public partnership for the village.

“The reason to build private-public partnerships is to offset revenue,” he said. “It’s to assist the community. In this case, it helps to provide a service for the community, which is a launch. It helps to pay for that. I think if you ask the other business owners in Vickery Village, if you brought this to their attention, I think they would be all for this, because they want to see more business. They want to see more individuals here. They want to see people come experience Vickery Village.”

Van Rossum said the village could enter into a similar agreement if another kayak, canoe and paddleboard business came forward.

“We’re engaging in a memorandum of understanding with no risk to us,” he said. “There is no risk to us. If the business fails, for whatever reason, we don’t lose anything. We still have a kayak launch.”

Nelson said having the village market rentals for Suamico Paddle would result in other businesses wanting to be marketed.

“Suddenly we’ve become a marketing firm,” she said. “We’re not in the business of marketing. That’s not our specialty. That’s not what we’re here for. We are in the so-called business of providing public service. We take care of roads. We take care of public safety…”

Fire Chief Joe Bertler said most users of the launch at Fireman’s Park are not Suamico residents.

“They are supporting local business down there,” he said.

Nelson said Suamico Paddle could produce its own brochures and put them in the village’s shelters, instead of the village printing them.

Schneider said he favors promoting and helping businesses, “but not getting into the advertising game for them.”
Andrews said he would favor posts on social media, but not the printing of the flyers.

Kaker said he would take the feedback he received from board members into consideration to revise a marketing plan to present at the July 20 meeting.

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