Staff Photo by Lori Yount -- OutVenture officials are asking for donations and loans of kayaks after most of its fleet was destroyed in a Hixson barn fire over the weekend. The cause of the fire is undetermined.
OutVenture’s popular summer kayak tours will go on, thanks to local businesses and residents, program officials said this week.
More than three weeks after a Hixson barn fire destroyed the city program’s 35-boat fleet, OutVenture has gathered enough kayaks on loan and through donations to continue its summer programs for underprivileged children at Chattanooga Parks and Recreations’ recreation centers, as well as its affordable group tours for people of all ages, said Tiffany Ellison, recreation specialist for OutVenture.
The fire isn’t believed to be set intentionally, but the cause is still undetermined, according to fire officials.
“The programs will go on. We shouldn’t have a problem with that,” she said. “The community has really helped and come together.”
Rock/Creek donated almost $4,000 in equipment, including four sea kayaks. OutVenture is also borrowing about a dozen kayaks, but the program still needs to replace its brand new whitewater kayaks that burned in the Greenway Farm fire, Ms. Ellison said.
OutVenture should be able to replace a good deal of the equipment in the coming weeks with insurance money, said Parks and Recreation Administrator Larry Zehnder. He said the city claimed an $81,000 loss in contents of the barn, and although he isn’t sure if the policy will cover all of it, he said much of the equipment should be able to be replaced and possibly a storage building constructed with insurance money.
Right now boats are stored in the basement OutVenture’s administrative building and on a trailer at the new Outdoor Chattanooga building near Coolidge Park.
“I don’t think the program is in jeopardy,” Mr. Zehnder said. “While we suffered this loss, I think we should be in a pretty good state.”
No scheduled programs or tours have been canceled because of the loss in the fire, Ms. Ellison.
“The weekend after the barn burned down... we had to cancel because of severe weather,” she said.