By JIM MATTHEWS
PERRIS – Lake Perris has been without a marina and store operating at the lake since 2019, but as of July 1 this year Rec-Out SoCal will begin rebuilding a new marina, marina store and other facilities to provide a greater range of services to the 1 million visitors a year that come to the lake, according to new concession owner Todd Matthews.
The first of the new facilities to open will be a very small bait, soft drinks and ice store. It will be near the entrance road to the marina and open the first day — July 1 — operations can begin.
Matthews said they won the contract to rebuild the facilities in February, 2021 but a succession of issues had to be resolved before they could begin operations and building a new program. The biggest delay was caused by the replacement of the old water lines that fed the marina operations. The old pipes contained asbestos and would have to be replaced. It took a year to resolve who was responsible for replacing the piping. Eventually, state parks absorbed the $1 million-plus cost and had the work done.
The 30-year contract calls for Rec-Out SoCal, owned by Matthews, to build a new marina dock and store and add a rental boat fleet, along with other facilities. Matthews said he expects the new marina to be open by next spring and rental boats will be available then. The store will take a little longer.
“Everything will come in phases according to our contract,” said Matthews. “Our goal is to have everything done well before the 2028 Olympics when the rowing events will be held here.”
Matthews said he will have two food trailers in operation before the end of the summer. Ordered some time back, the custom food trailers keep having their completion date pushed back, with the current “guaranteed date” for completion July 15. One of many setback, this is the fourth date Matthews has been guaranteed for trailers’ completion. Initially, the trailers will be housed where the marina store once was located.
Matthews has big plans for a wide range of facilities:
— One of the food trailers will be offering boutique food items like Smash Burgers and street corn, while the other will focus on snacky and dessert offerings.
— Both food trailers will offer food delivery to the 500 campsites at the lake starting nearly as soon as they arrive and are put into operation.
— Fully furnished cabanas will be available for rent at both of the lagoon areas on the lake, complete with family-oriented games. The cabana will have food delivery service as well. This also should be in place before the end of summer.
— There are plans to have kayak, paddle boards and bicycle rentals, starting at the cabana facilities and later also rented through the marina store.
While not approved yet, Matthews said he hopes to work with Lake Perris and state parks staff to eventually have a complete water park on-site, glamping facilities and jet ski rentals. That is down the road. He and his wife plan to have unique services as the business grows. For example, he said they will have what he’s calling a “thermos rental” featuring a thermos filled with premium brewed coffee for early-bird anglers and other recreation users at the lake.
“The end game for us it to have a place where the community can create lasting memories. We want this to become a destination location,” said Matthews. “We plan to be here for the next 30 years and plan to put every penny of profit back into the facilities here to make that happen.”
[Editor’s Note: WON’s Jim Matthews and new Lake Perris marina concessionaire Todd Matthews are not related.]