ROSWELL, Ga. — Those who love to “shoot the Hooch” in Roswell will be dealing with a new vendor when they go to rent their equipment this year.
Longtime operator Chattahoochee Outfitters/Shoot the Hooch is out, following a 3-2 vote by the Roswell City Council Jan. 13.
The council voted to contract with North Carolina-based Nantahala Outdoor Center for its river recreation and concession services that include canoe, kayak, raft, paddleboard, tube and bike rentals at Don White Memorial Park and Azalea Park.
Council members Mike Palermo and Marcelo Zapata voted against the measure, and newly sworn-in Councilwoman Christine Hall abstained.
Roswell-based Shoot the Hooch has worked with the city for about 18 years, but when it came time to renew, it failed to meet application standards set by the city. Instead, Nantahala was deemed the most responsive and responsible in the application process.
“The primary reason for that is [Nantahala] were the only ones that had at least three similar contracts in the last five years,” said Director of Finance Ryan Luckett. “They were really the only one that was available to be evaluated. The company, Shoot the Hooch, was deemed non-responsive because they were unable to meet that criteria.”
Nantahala and Shoot the Hooch were the only two who submitted proposals for the contract.
Shoot the Hooch General Manager Barbara Russell said this was the first time the company was required to meet the criteria. In the past, references from entities such as the Chattahoochee Nature Center, The Cottage School and local high schools have sufficed, she said.
“This was the first [request for proposal] that was presented to us for bid that we were required to have three similar community-type relationships,” Russell said. “Unfortunately, we had two. We used the National Parks Services as a third one, but that one was disqualified. They said that one was an authorization, not a relationship. So, because we didn’t have a third one, we were disqualified.”
Roswell Director of Recreation and Parks Jeff Leatherman said that in 2014, the city had similar requirements for proposals, but Shoot the Hooch was the only respondent, so the criteria wasn’t relevant.
“This isn’t a new requirement,” he said.
Still, some council members said they were hesitant to vote in such a situation.
Bill Odrey, owner of Shoot the Hooch, said the company failed on a technicality to “a newcomer that has no idea what to do with our part of the river.”
“We’ve been providing service to Roswell for 18 years,” he said. “I don’t know what better reference I could possibly give you than this.”
Odrey added that Shoot the Hooch had bid 21 percent of its revenue as the fee for concession if chosen, a number not included in the meeting’s agenda packet.
City staff confirmed the figure and added that Nantahala had bid 7 percent. Shoot the Hooch has bid 5 percent in past years.
Based on expected annual revenue, the city could have earned $84,000 if it contracted with Shoot the Hooch, Odrey said.
“We went from nobody on the river 18 years ago to where you’re building a $10 million bridge and walkways because of the activity we have created,” he said. “We made everything safe. We honored Roswell… My life’s in Roswell. That’s all I can say.”