Mooney Grove brings back boats
By Patrick Dillon
visalia – One of Tulare Counties most beloved parks is Visalia’s Mooney Grove. With its massive oak trees, it gives visitors a glimpse into what the land used to look like. The park also provides both enriching and fun activities for the family which now includes an old favorite, the paddle boats.
“We’re just glad that the community is enjoying them and that we can provide another service,” said Neil Pilegard, parks director for the county.
With the backing of county supervisor Amy Shuklian, the public’s requests to Tulare County Parks and Recreation to have the boats back on the pond was the main reason for their return.
The last time that the parks and recreation tried to bring the boats back to Mooney Grove, in 2015, it backfired. At that time, there were requests from the public, but when the boats were brought out they sat empty at the docks.
Two years later there is action behind the interest. On the second weekend after the boats were made available on July 15, there were a total of 73 rentals. On Saturday, July 22, there were 34 and on Sunday, July 24, there were 39 rentals. Each rental costs $5 for a half hour. Over the course of the weekend the park made a minimum of $365.00.
We are just glad that the public is enjoying them, and that we can provide a good level of service,” said Pilegard.
Visitors continued to rent the boats again this past Saturday. Visalia resident Crystal Whitfield was one of those visitors who took out a paddle boat. In the boat with her were her two kids Troy Veon, 4, and Juvius, 2.
“I am very happy that they’ve brought the boats back,” said Whitfield. “Here in Tulare and Visalia, we need things to get the kids out of the house.”
All seemed to be enjoying themselves out on the three-and-a-half-acre pond. Whitfield later added that she would indeed be back to rent out another boat.
Funds brought in by the boat rentals, along with entrance fees to the park, arbor rentals and other activities are put toward park maintenance. Before the addition of the boat rentals, Mooney Grove generated 41% of the total $260,000 revenue generated by all 10 parks.
With the extra funds generated by the boats, the park is looking forward to checking off items on the park’s project list in the Mooney Grove 20-year master plan. According to the list, possible projects include: a new tree-lined drive at the entrance gate; improved security; major event hosting; sports event hosting; and expanded evening and twilight use. As of now, Pilegard says that the committee is currently evaluating the projects and more to see what their next plan is.
Currently there are only four row boats available with more on the way. The boats are only available on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are limited to three people or a combined max of 500 pounds. The boats are scheduled to be available through Labor Day weekend. There are a couple of islands in the pond area, and while it might be tempting to go exploring, they are off limits.