Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Suisun City Approves Five-Year Boat Deal

Suisun City Approves Five-Year Boat Deal
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The 45-foot excursion boat California Sunset is getting a lease from Suisun City, allowing it to call the city's public boat dock home for the next five years.

The colorful diesel boat has operated from the waterfront for nearly a year with owner and captain Dan Thiemann running wedding and fishing charters and tours of the Sacramento River Delta and San Francisco Bay.

Recently, Thiemann has run an increasing number of bird-watching tours through the Suisun Marsh, which happened after a rare snowy owl was spotted in Suisun Bay.

"He seems to be doing very well," said Suisun City Building official Dan Kasperson, who had been working with Thiemann. "It has been a good trial run."

Under the lease, if Suisun City decides it still wants a gambling boat or wants a boat that offers some service that Thiemann doesn't have, Thiemann can submit an offer to provide that himself.

Suisun City residents approved riverboat gambling in 1995 by a margin of five votes, but the city failed to attract a gambling boat.

If Thiemann's business expands to the point he wants to bring in a larger boat "we will have to go into negotiations to discuss possible improvements in infrastructure such as a second dock," Kasperson said.

If the city decides it wants a gaming board "we would get first right of refusal on that opportunity," Thiemann said.

Thiemann said he hopes his business will continue improving so that he can bring in a larger vessel capable of carrying between 300 and 500 people rather than the 98 passangers the California Sunset carries.

The last boat that called Suisun City home was the paddleboat Grand Romance, which arrived in 1998 but didn't prove to be the waterfront attraction that the city hoped for.

It sailed out of Suisun City for the last time in late 1999, leaving the town without a excursion boat until Thiemann tied up the California Sunset at the public boat dock.

Since then, Thiemann has run his boat on a month-to-month lease, paying 10 percent of his gross receipts to the city.

Operating with little or no advertising, the boat has paid Suisun City $3,796 out of nearly $38,000 it has collected between July 2006 and February 2007.

The Suisun City Council meets at 7 p.m. today in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

At a glance

Who: Suisun City Council

What: Approval of a five-year lease for an excursion boat

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Suisun City Council chamber, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Info: 421-7300

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