Kayak storage racks installed along Rhinelander waterways
By Lori Adler
Area paddlers now have a place to store their kayaks in Rhinelander, thanks to three new kayak racks located along the Wisconsin and Pelican Rivers. One of the projects of this year’s Leadership Oneida County class, the racks create a place to stow kayaks either short or long term, eliminating the need to transport kayaks to the river.
Having onsite storage is a convenience that will be appreciated by many, but it is especially helpful for those who do not always have a way to transport their kayaks every time they wish to paddle. Kayak racks have become increasingly popular in other areas, such as the Twin Cities where rack space goes for a premium.
The project was the brainchild of one of the class of 2019 Leadership Oneida County teams. Created by the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Oneida County is an annual program designed to encourage people to develop a better sense of community through education and involvement opportunities. Each year, the program culminates in a group project designed to benefit the community. Cecily Dawson, a member of this year’s class and part of the kayak rack team, explained how the program helped her discover people and businesses she never knew existed in Rhinelander. “There are so many interesting people here doing amazing things,” Dawson notes, adding, “I’ve learned so much.”
After deciding upon their project, class members worked on the many aspects of taking a project from idea to reality. A design for the racks had to be developed, the materials had to be sourced and someone had to build them. And of course, money was needed to do all of these things. The group applied for and received a Walmart Community Grant for the project. They then found a suitable design for the racks, and materials were acquired locally.
To have the racks built, the group turned to Rhinelander High School. Two students, seniors Nicholas Cates and Nathan Roberts, along with guidance from their Technology Education instructor Adam Schmidt, manufactured the racks, including all the machining and welding. Most of the work was done in the high school metal shop, but Nicolet College allowed the students to use some specialized machinery. Cates said determining the correct angles to make everything fit together was the hardest part but noted that he felt both pride and satisfaction in the project, adding that he enjoyed being able to say, “I built that.” Schmidt, who advised the students throughout the project, said it was especially good for the two seniors to be able to “leave something as a legacy,” demonstrating the importance of community involvement.
The racks will each hold six kayaks. They are powder coated and sunk into a concrete base, making them both strong and durable. At this point, usage of the racks will be free of charge, though an annual fee could be considered in the future for those who may wish to rent a spot for the entire season.
Team members said they hope a future class or other community organization expands upon this project, installing more racks and maybe even adding kayak launches in the future. Christy Schneider said there is great opportunity for expansion, adding, “I’m hoping this project accelerates and snowballs.”
The kayak racks are located at Hodag Park, Pelican Rapids boat landing and the river launch at Norway Street near Rhinelander’s Riverwalk. The racks have been installed and are ready for public use.