Outfitter Deal Proposed For Schuylkill Trail ‘Hub’

The sun sets on the Schuylkill River in a photo posted Tuesday (Nov. 7) to Instagram

POTTSTOWN PA – Rather than wait for businesses to discover marketing opportunities along the Schuylkill River Trail, its public overseer – the Pottstown-based Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area – said Wednesday (Nov. 8, 2017) it intends to look for and help at least one private partner meet what it expects will be trail users’ demand for “a coordinated network” of recreational services.

The heritage area has set a Dec. 8 (Friday) deadline to receive letters of interest from private outfitting organizations interested in providing “boat and bicycle rentals, a place to enjoy refreshments, and consistent, reliable transportation between access points,” on the trail over a five-year period, according to heritage area Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer.

She called it a “trifecta of desired services,” in which the heritage area is willing to invest $66,000 in start-up resources for its selected operator.

Instead of standing by until companies respond to what Schaefer characterized as “a growing interest in outdoor recreation,” the heritage area “determined that we should provide catalytic support to attract the right entrepreneur.”

It proposes to offer funding for a business plan in the amount of $30,000; a $10,000 contract to administer an existing bike share program; $10,000 to provide outfitting support for the 2018 Schuylkill River Sojourn; $10,000 to establish transportation service between sites; and $6,000 to run the heritage area’s Pedal and Paddle program for a year.

The services it wants would create a “recreational hub system” along the river corridor, according to Schaefer. The investment package would coincide with the heritage area’s strategic plan, titled “(Re)Turn to the River,” to promote connections between the Schuylkill and adjoining river communities, she said.

The trail currently has a planned length of 130 miles stretching from Philadelphia to Pottsville, a portion of it through western Montgomery County and linking to the Perkiomen Valley and further north. About half of the trail, 65 miles, is already completed in several sections. Another is expected to be finished soon.

Five pages of details on the request for letters of interest are available online, here. Questions can be directed to Schaefer at (484) 945-0200 or by e-mail to eschaefer@schuylkillriver.org.

Photo from the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area via Instagram

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