NAPA — Bureau of Reclamation officials say that visitors to Lake Berryessa will find recreational opportunities there in 2013, despite the uncertainty surrounding most of the lake’s resorts.
To be certain, the opportunities won’t be as plentiful as several years ago. Then all seven resorts along the lake’s 160-mile shoreline were open and at full strength.
The bureau decided in 2006 to take a different direction with the resorts, which included tearing down all the facilities at several of them and starting from scratch. It chose Arizona-based Pensus in 2010 to renovate and operate six of the resorts.
But the agency announced last week that it has terminated the contract with Pensus, leaving the transition in flux before it hit its stride. The planned new hotels, marinas, cottages, restaurants and other features have yet to be built.
Mid-Pacific Regional Director Donald Glaser came to Napa Valley College on Tuesday to explain the decision to terminate the Pensus contract and explain what that means for the lake’s recreation future in 2013.
“For this year, it was the most important decision I had to make,” he told about 30 people during the second of three public forums on the topic.
Pensus ran five of the Lake Berryessa resorts since 2010 and these are without water and electricity. It was to take over a sixth, Markley Cove, next year. Markley Cove still has all of its recreation facilities. A seventh resort, Pleasure Cove Marina, is run by Forever Resorts under a long-term contract and retains all of its facilities.
Lake Berryessa Park Manager Jeff Laird said that the bureau on Monday began running three of the former Pensus resorts for day use. These had the pre-Pensus names of Steele Park, Spanish Flat and Putah Creek. It will try to bring in concessionaires with interim contracts to run these three resorts in the spring and summer, he said.
Two of the former Pensus resorts, Rancho Monticello and Berryessa Marina, will remain closed for the foreseeable future, Laird said.
Visitors who don’t want the rather rugged resort experience that the three former Pensus resorts will offer have options. Markley Cove has a marina, launching, a retail store and overnight lodging. Pleasure Cove has tent and RV camping, a marina, retail store and overnight lodging, bureau officials said.
Glaser said he terminated the contract with Pensus because Pensus failed to meet the standards and timelines stipulated in the contract.
For the long-term operation of the former Pensus resorts, the bureau will put the contracts out to bid again. Glaser said this time around the agency will establish a public advisory forum, something it intended to do in 2006, but never did, he said.
“In hindsight, it would have been the best thing we could have done,” he said.
Georgi Ffinch of Pensus last week referred to a press release for the company’s comments on the contract termination. The company is still evaluating its next step, she said. It can appeal Glaser’s decision to a Department of Interior appeals office.
The press release said the bureau’s “continuing gross mismanagement of visitors services at the lake” doesn’t serve the interests of the local community and the public. It said the bureau has proven to be neither a willing or constructive partner in working with Pensus or any private entity.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.