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This photo shows the type of boats that would be offered by a new pedal boat rental business in Nelson Park. 

DECATUR – For people who don't own a boat but want to enjoy the experience on Lake Decatur, a new opportunity is likely headed to Nelson Park this summer.

The Decatur Park District's board informally approved a proposal Wednesday that would establish pedal boat, or paddle boat, rentals in the area near the Beach House restaurant.

David and Shirley Hardin, owners of the Tandemonium bike rental business that operates in Fairview Park, propose to offer the service, calling their new venture “Macon Waves Pedal Boat Rental.”

“This is one of the things we did growing up, too,” David Hardin said. 

He said he offered the idea of pedal boat rentals to other people, but no one followed through, so he decided to do it himself. 

Hardin said he has already purchased five Sun Dolphin Sun Slider boats, which can hold five people. Three people can pedal, and two can ride in the back. 

The minimum capacity for each boat is two people. Hardin plans to provide life jackets, and each boat will include a safety packet. 

The plan is to offer the boat rentals on weekends from noon to 6 p.m. Bike rentals would continue to be available on weekdays in Fairview Park from 5:30 p.m. to dusk.

Hardin said the bike rental business has been going well since the couple started it in 2012, and they have expanded their fleet. He is considering bringing a bike to Nelson Park for people to rent on the weekends, in addition to the boats.

The bike rental season is from April to October, while boat rentals would be offered from mid-May to mid-September.

While details aren't finalized, the boats would rent for less than $20 an hour. Hardin said he wants the opportunity to be affordable.

A formal proposal is likely to appear before the board at its next meeting, but commissioners Wednesday seemed excited by the prospect.

“I think it's great, really, and kudos to you guys for stepping up and doing something,” Commissioner Chris Harrison said. “It's definitely an added amenity.”

The business has established a Facebook page,

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Regional Editor

Regional editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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