Paddle boat business won’t give up without a fight
City of Tonawanda resident, Robert Rollain approached the common council again on Tuesday, giving them an alternative idea to making room for him at Gateway Harbor. Rollain wants to start a motorized paddle boat business that would be handicap accessible. At the previous meeting, he requested approval for 30 feet of dock space located right beside Waterbike and Boat Adventures, which is run by owner, Jim Chilton. The problem is there may not be enough space for the both of them, but Rollain told the council he had the answer.
Rollain said that there is about 60 to 120 feet of additional floating dock space on Fillmore Avenue behind the maintenance yard. He said using it would be an easy way of adding additional dock space, so both businesses could fit.
“You slip a pin through an eyelet so they attach to each other,” Rollain said. They could attach it to the end of Jim’s dock. Jim could move his kayak space over without being interrupted by our little paddle boats.”
Chilton has owned his water bike business for over twelve years. He said that the issue is not a matter of competition with Rollain.
“I wish him good luck in whatever he pursues. All I know is I don’t have any room in front of me,” he said.
City of Tonawanda Mayor, Ron Polizzi, said the paddle boat business is a viable possibility, but it has to go through the council first.
“I want to make sure everybody can be accommodated and everyone can get along together,” he said.
Rollain said the reason why he wants the specific location is because it’s located right where the wheel chair ramp is; making it easier for him to get people in and out of the paddleboats.
“All I’m trying to do is start an activity that handicap people can use,” he said. “Everyone should be able to enjoy the water, and I’m trying to make it easier for senior citizens and disabled people to do just that.”
Rollain’s paddle boats have an electric throwing motor that is attached to the back of the boat; so riders have the option of paddling or not. He plans on charging $15 an hour and $10 an hour for senior citizens. Rollain hopes that the common council sees what his business has to offer and approves him of the dock space. Members told Rollain that they would take everything he had to say about the paddleboat business into consideration. The council will further discuss the issue at their next informal meeting.