Ashe and members of the Lockhart Town Council did just that Tuesday night as they approved a lease agreement with Bryan Brown of Union for the rental of the former water filtration plant at 209 Lighthouse Alley.
Only Brown’s not going to use the facility to filter water from the Broad River.
He’s going to use it to put boats in it.
Brown is publisher of Carolinas Outdoors — a free magazine serving South Carolina and western North Carolina based in Union, covering outdoor recreation like hunting, fishing and camping — and also operates Carolinas Outdoors Expeditions.
The expeditions side of his business offers kayak and canoe rentals and guided and unguided trips on several area rivers in Union County. Brown plans to renovate the former water filtration plant and turn it into a rental and Broad River tour operation.
The lease agreement council members approved Tuesday night calls for the first year of rent to be at no charge to Brown as he will be responsible for cleaning up and repairing the building — as needed — to get the new shop up and running in Lockhart. Any major repairs needed at the former water filtration plant will be negotiated between Brown and the town and the Town of Lockhart will provide water and power to the building once its repairs and clean up is complete.
Then, after the first year, Brown and the town council will meet again to see how the business is doing and decide on a fair price for rent.
Brown told council members and the public Tuesday he hopes to have the kayak/canoe rental and tour operation up and running by this spring. The expeditions company will use the building mainly for storage of the boats and supplies at first, but is looking at the possibility of expanding to include a retail operation at some point in the future.
“We’ll see how it goes this first spring and summer and make a decision after that,” Brown said.
He said the business has support from several entities and hopes it will bring people to the east central Union County community. Brown already is getting a positive response from the public as he’s spoken about the new operation. He’s spoken with several church groups who enjoy doing trips like what will be offered at the Lockhart business and they seem to be excited about the opportunity to do something like this locally instead of having to leave town.
Brown said the operation will have a limited number of boats to start with but will have the capacity for 30 people per trip down the Broad River. Tour goers will have the opportunity to start at multiple locations along the river and also the option of having Brown guide them or do it on their own.
“We’re going to put you on the water, let you take a boat out for a day and have some fun,” he said.
Council member Glen Stein asked the business operator if he planned to employ anyone locally. Brown said there is that possibility, especially for a person who could guide tours when he’s not available.
The council and Brown each are excited about the new business.
“I think it’s great,” Stein said.
“We’re going to give it a try and see,” Brown said.
Anyone interested in learning more about Carolinas Outdoors or Carolinas Outdoors Expeditions can visit their Web site at www.carolinasoutdoors.com.
The site says the business is the area’s kayak/canoe rental headquarters and also offers tours on the Pacolet and Enoree rivers and discounts for large church, civic and corporate groups.
Ashe said finding the rental/tour business will be easy.
All people will need to do is follow the lighthouse beacon to Lighthouse Alley.
In other lease related business, the town council approved dissolving a lease it currently has with Lockhart Dixie Youth Association which now has become the Lockhart Elite USSSA Baseball Association. The council then approved a 20-year lease with the new youth baseball/softball association.
The only change made from the old lease to the new lease was the name of the organization. Otherwise, all terms remain the same.
Elite USSSA board president Jeff Bailey told council members and the public the change in associations was to have the ability to get more kids involved in youth baseball and softball. The new organization allows Lockhart to custom build its league and allows children ages 5-17 to play.
So, Bailey said, if someone doesn’t make their school team, they can continue to play baseball/softball up until they turn 18 years old.
“We don’t want any kids not to be able to play baseball,” he said.
Bailey added the way Dixie Youth rules and regulations are set up, Lockhart doesn’t have enough kids to play. The new league is set up for everybody who wants to play whether they are from Lockhart or not.
Elite USSSA Baseball is the world’s largest multi-sports organization and each player involved with the association will have the option to play on a tournament team at the end of the regular season. There are no cuts — every player registered will be placed and play on a team — and all tournament teams will play at the new Timken Sports Complex in Union.
At the end of the season, each player will receive a trophy and be recognized at the organization’s sports banquet.
Registration is affordable and includes hat, shirt, socks, trophy and banquet fee for the player. Registration dates will be announced through schools and local media.
The change is all about the kids — continuing to keep them occupied and off the streets and giving them all the chance to play baseball/softball.
“Everything we do, we do it with the kids in mind,” Bailey said.