The ringing in of a new year also starts a new chapter for Mark Detweiler and many of his regular fishing costumers at the Big Toho Marina Bait & Tackle at Kissimmee Lakefront Park.
On Jan. 2, the current marina building will be torn down as Detweiler opens for business at the new facility along the lake.
The new facility, the first of Lakefront Park phase 3 renovations to be completed, will come with a full commercial kitchen, a bait pick-up window, a separate retail area for general fishing supplies, outdoor seating and exterior public restrooms. It’s the same size as the current marina, but with an 11-boat slip attached to give visitors a place to dock their boats as they explore the park.
“For tournament events and fishing events, stuff like that, the building is long overdue. We should have had it many years ago. But, this building has been here since 1971, so it has a lot of history. It has a lot a value to the older residents. You know, there’s a lot of good old stories told in here that happened many, many years ago, and the new building will hopefully have many, many more,” Detweiler said.
Kissimmee also has decided to play a larger role with the building, at least for the first year. In the past, the city leased the building to Detweiler, leaving him with the responsibility of maintaining the building along with keeping the marina in operation. With the new building, the city will sign a concession agreement with Detweiler, giving the city the responsibility to maintain the building, while Detweiler only worries about the marina’s operation. This is so the city can better keep the marina’s look with other structures in the park.
“Because it’s a brand new building and designed to be consistent with the rest of the buildings in the park, we felt like it would be better for us to constantly maintain all the buildings in the park. It ensures that the quality of the maintenance of that structure is consistent with the rest of the buildings in the park,” City Manager Mike Steigerwald said.
Along with up-to-date equipment, the city also designated a grass area on the east side of the boat ramps for fishing events, a feature that the land around the old marina building didn’t have room for. The city also will designate a super event lawn in Oct. 2014 for even bigger fishing events as well as other outdoor events.
Detweiler also has speculative plans to expand the marina’s menu as well as extend operating hours, once he gets used to the new building.
The new marina began the designing phase two years ago, said Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities director Dan Loubier. It took five to six months to build.