The National Park Service recently released a solicitation for bids on a boat rental/food service operation within Julian Price Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This represents the fifth, and smallest, of the Blue Ridge Parkway concession proposals released within the last couple of months. The lengthy NPS logjam in concession contracts continues to rupture as numerous contracts, large and small, are offered for bid.
The latest parkway concession is at milepost 297 near the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. The portion of the parkway in which the concession is located is at an elevation of 3,400 feet and contains 4,344 acres, including 47-acre Price Lake. An adjacent 197-site Park Service campground is, according to the National Park Service, the Parkway’s largest and most-popular.
In addition to the required boat rentals, food service, and firewood sales, the contract authorizes, but does not require, the new concessionaire to offer for sale limited merchandise related to fishing and boating.
The NPS estimates an initial investment of about $47,000, most of which is for the acquisition of boats to be used for rental purposes. The concession produced annual gross revenues of approximately $50,000 during each of the last three years. About 80 percent of revenues are derived from boat rentals while the remaining 20 percent was equally split between food and beverage sales and firewood sales. Boat rentals are restricted to canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.
The ten-year contract requires a minimum franchise fee (an interested party can bid more) of 3 percent of gross revenues. The contract also includes a listing of required deferred maintenance items, most of which are minor. Estimated deferred maintenance of $3,354 in the first year is included as part of the $47,000 initial investment.
The minimum operating season runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, plus weekends and federal holidays from May 15 through October 15. The concession has no preferred offeror.
The last date to ask questions or request information is August 23. The NPS has scheduled a site visit for August 27. Proposals from interested parties are due in the NPS Atlanta regional office by September 10 for the contract that is to become effective April 1, 2013.
It should be noted that living accommodations for the concession operator are the responsibility of the winning bidder. NPS Concession specialist Laura Nelson indicated that plentiful accommodations are available in the nearby towns of Boone and Blowing Rock.