St. Pete Beach Update: New Concessionaire Taking Time

In a 4-1 vote, St. Pete Beach Commissioners agreed on a top concessionaire choice at their April 24 meeting so the city staff could begin lease contract negotiations with a specific vendor.

The lease with the current concessionaire is set to expire on May 31.

Five qualified responses were received from the city’s request for proposals and the staff committee met with all five proposers. Afterward, they ranked the top three to bring to the commission for approval. The committee unanimously endorsed United Park Services, Inc. as “by far the best proposal” according to the city’s agenda report prepared by City Manager Wayne Saunders.

The city’s two concessions areas are at Upham Beach located at 6850 Beach Plaza and Pass-a-Grille’s Paradise Grill located at 900 Gulf Way.

At the beginning of what became a lengthy discussion, commission member Ward Friszolowski said he was “less than impressed” by the quality of a hamburger he recently purchased at a United Park Services Ft. DeSoto concession stand.

“I’m concerned about quality and atmosphere,” he said. “I kind of felt like I was in 1960. I want what is good for us.”

Other commission members said they had sampled and liked the concession food at Madeira Beach and Anna Maria Island locations both run by United Park Services.

Members of the public then took turns expressing their opinions regarding food quality and menu offerings including alcohol, local ownership, concession stand atmosphere and sundry items that could be offered like branded clothing.

Friszolowski was unwavering in his stance about food quality with regard to United Park Services at their Ft. DeSoto location.

To help move the discussion along, Saunders suggested that commission members could vote on the staff’s recommended first-, second- and third-place rankings so that the five-year lease contract negotiation process could move forward with the top proposer. Then, before the next meeting, commissioners would have time to visit different concession stand locations in the area managed by United Park Services to sample food quality and atmosphere. At their next meeting and before approving a contract, commissioners could vote again to change the order of the proposers, if they desired.

Barry and Kelly Streib, owners of the Brass Monkey located at 709 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach, were ranked second and Michael Janecek, the current concessionaire, was ranked third in the staff’s recommended proposal order.

Three commissioners and the mayor voted in favor of the staff’s rankings while Friszolowski was the dissenting vote.

Concessions Lease Negotiations Taking Time

At the May 8 meeting, City Attorney Andrew Dickman reported that Saunders was still negotiating with United Park Services and that an agreement was not ready yet for review by commissioners. He then advised that under current law, the commission could extend the current concessions agreement one time up to six months and he suggested they choose the maximum.

“You may not need the whole six months but it would give time for the city manager to continue negotiating and bring back a lease to you with the [new] vendor,” he said.

Dickman also said it was his understanding that the current vendor has agreed to an extension.

Commission members unanimously approved a six-month lease extension with the current concessions vendor during lease negotiations with the new one, United Park Services.

Upcoming July Events

For the second year in a row, the city’s 4th of July fireworks show will be run by Creative Pyrotechnics of Orlando. A total of 4,180 shells will be displayed in 25 minutes at a cost of $25,000.

The 5th-annual non-profit Surfers for Autism event will be held at Pass-a-Grille on Saturday, July 7. To accommodate the event and crowd, street closures will occur on 9th and 10th avenues between Gulf Way and Pass-a-Grille Way from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event’s activities will include surfing, paddle boarding, music, beach games, interactive exhibits, giveaways, fun contests and a raffle.

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