The Village of Saugerties waterfront is looking good following recent work — a mural on the waterfront storage building, the harvester and aerators – resident Gail Porter told the village board last week. But Porter was not at the meeting on January 4 simply to compliment the board. She was looking for a way to better deal with conflicts between her kayak rental business, I Paddle New York, and some individual boat owners who felt that the business use of the facility crowded them out.
“I was visited at the beginning of August by Eyal [village code enforcement officer Eyal Saad], and I want to discuss this matter with you,” Porter said, She provided some background about her business and qualifications. She’s an ACA [American Canoe Association] qualified instructor, a member of the Saugerties Chamber of Commerce, a member of Riverkeeper, and a participant in annual river cleanups as well as testing water.
“I’m a part of Saugerties,” she said.
Saad informed Porter she could not operate a business out of a village park and would have to shut down. She had been running the business at the location for six years, she said, and the only provision in the village law that appeared to apply was the requirement that a business operating on village property needed a license.
“I dispute this. Everything is in my trailer, parked in the lot. I don’t accept same-day reservations. No payments are accepted there [at the riverside],” Porter said. On rare occasions she will try to accommodate an individual who comes up without a prepaid registration, but in general she does not conduct business at the beach.
Mayor Bill Murphy said Saad had responded to two complaints from people who wanted to launch their own kayaks. “Gail’s business was interfering with them launching their own kayaks,” he said. “People don’t want to wait behind someone who is operating a business. I get that, I understand it.” Murphy suggested a meeting with Porter and see whether a resolution could be found before the spring boating season.
“There’s no doubt that Gail is a watchdog down at the beach. If something happens, she emails me or texts me,” Murphy said, offering examples. “It has, in my mind, been a great partnership.”
“Is there some sort of a license we could give Gail that allows her to operate her business?” asked Jeannine Mayer.
Murphy suggested that the village could negotiate a season-permit fee for the kayak rental business. “We could come up with a reasonable fee that works for you and covers us.”
Trustee Terry Parisian was concerned that having a business operating on village property could involve liability issues, and that the village should be covered by Porter’s insurance. Porter said she was amenable to doing that. Her insurance already covers some near neighbors.
“I would like to say, thanks Gail, because you are promoting tourism for the village, and I think that’s a good thing,” said trustee Donald Hackett.
The board agreed that with the addition of the village as a protected party to Porter’s insurance policy and the negotiation of a reasonable permit fee allowing Porter to continue to operate.