The Iowa Natural Resources Commission voted Thursday to approve Shamrock Boat Sales as the concessionaire to run Iowa's first official State Marina, now under construction at Casino Beach on Storm Lake.
Bob and Pat Kelly of Shamrock, the well-known boat sales and service company out of Carnavon, were the only qualified applicants to file a complete proposal.
"It was difficult to find an operator for the marina.
"For one thing - they have to be able to pretty much run the show - operating the shops, boat sales, repair, storage, hoists. And the other difficulty is that the state policy currently allows us only to offer a five year contract," says Don Labate, who is heading up the State Marina project for the Department of Natural Resources. "The contact is potentially extendable, but there aren't many people who would be willing to put in this kind of investment and then not have any guarantees."
For the Kellys, the decision was a natural one. They have had a number of clients from Storm Lake in both boating sales and service over the years in the Lake Black Hawk region, and see the opportunity to be part of the State Marina project as a rare chance to extend their services to more northwest Iowa outdoors lovers.
The Kellys have been in the boating business since 1941, and have seen an explosion in pleasure boating over the past decade. During that time, their staff has doubled to include the highest number of certified marine mechanic in the state. Mercury Marine has named them one of the Top 10 boating delaerships in the nation in customer satisfaction.
Their operation will be service-oriented. "You can't fake great servie," Bob said.
They will take over immediately. The commission also approved paving and boat ramp construction contracts for the marina this week, and exterior finishing work begins next week on the main marina building. Two new pairs of boat ramps will begin to go into place in May, as shoreline reconfiguration is complete. An additional fishing pier is planned, and slips designed for jet skis. Future developments include trails, a small beach, picnic shelter or gazebom and several tourist cabins for futiure budget years.
The concessions building will allow space for a restauant to be developed, and the Kellys are currently looking into that possibility, but say that the development will not take place this year.
Labate said the state is very pleased with the negotiations and prices involved with the final contracts voted on this week. All is in place, weather permitting, to meet the goal of opening the Storm Lake State Marina by July 1.
The project cost is estimated at just over $3 million.