Council, business owner discuss livery space

TIPP CITY — The future of a canoe livery in Tipp City has been a point of discussion at study sessions held by Tipp City Council for three weeks.

The discussion of the livery, formerly home to Barefoot Canoe, first came to council at a study session held March 1. During the session, Tipp City manager Tim Eggleston said that redesigning the facility is being considered as far as boat launches go, which includes potentially adding more launch ramps. Direction was being sought from council in terms of removing the fencing, the building and clearing the site for any modifications they may make for future launches.

“(Barefoot Canoe) didn’t sign a contract last year, and they have not approached us this year to have a contract. It makes sense at this point to remove that and prepare for redevelopment of that area,” Eggleston said.

At the March 1 meeting, council members Frank Scenna, Mike Jackson, Mike McFarland and council president Katelyn Berbach were in favor of demolishing the building, whereas council members Kathryn Huffman, Logan Rogers and Mayor Joseph Gibson were in favor of waiting and looking toward additional options, such as contracting the building to another business.

Chris Jackson, owner of Adventures on the Great Miami, wrote a letter to council expressing his interest in the facility, which was discussed at the Monday, March 15 study session. In the letter, Chris Jackson asked for two years to use the livery in which he would use his own funds to fix up the facility including painting it and replacing the roof if necessary.

“With COVID and everything in place last year, it kind of threw us all for a loop. Hopefully this year, we can go full speed ahead and keep the river moving,” Chris Jackson said. “I just made a substantial investment in new boats that are arriving on April 28, and I’d love having the new fleet in that nice new area I’d like to fix up, and start bringing customers to Tipp City. I’m just trying to ask for your blessing.”

According to Eggleston, Chris Jackson has already signed agreements allowing him to use launch locations in the area of the livery until October of this year, and that adding the facility into the agreement would not be difficult. The original goal was to have the site engineered out, according to Eggleston, and to have a grant applied for in July. If the city were to be awarded a grant, it would be sometime before 2022.

“I don’t have any issue with it,” Eggleston said, referring to allowing Chris Jackson to obtain the space and work on improving it. “It’s just a matter of putting those improvements in knowing next year, we could be building a whole new livery.”

Berbach said that she was OK with what Chris Jackson wanted to do with the building and the property that the livery sits on until council comes up with a plan for the boat launch area. Scenna echoed that he thought allowing Chris Jackson to restore the facility and being involved was a great idea.

“I would just like to be involved in the process,” Chris Jackson said. “My infrastructure — I’ve spent a lot of money the past 13 years, and I’d like to be kind of part of this process because I could be a lot of help, I believe.”

Berbach stated that because the area the livery sits on is city property and because the boat launch is public, council should be focusing on the residents and making the space accessible and nice for residents to utilize. Eggleston said the city manager’s office would continue to work with Chris Jackson on the agreement that as long as the city has not secured funding to renew the area, he would be able to use the facility as is. At the point that the city procures funding, Eggleston said they would try to filter in something that was fair to all parties with insight from Chris Jackson.

Further discussion about the livery and approval for improvements is planned for the next council meeting, to be held April 5.