“Through our conversations over the last few months, the city manager knows what we want,” said Commissioner Rick Falkenstein. “Good food. Good quality. It’s not a bar. It’s a place that all ages can come, have fun and enjoy the atmosphere along our beautiful beaches.”
During the February 13 meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to not extend the concession lease to Rita and Michael Janecek of Paradise Suites, LLC who have been running both stands for 10 years. The Upham Beach facility is located at 6850 Beach Plaza while Pass-a-Grille’s Paradise Grill is located at 900 Gulf Way.
Commissioners acted on the recommendation of City Manager Wayne Saunders to follow due diligence in deciding the future of beach concessions. “We should not negotiate an existing contract without opening it up for bid.”
The Janeceks won the contract when it was opened for bid 10 years ago.
Mayor Al Johnson said on February 13 that not renewing the contract was not related to anything negative about the current concession operations.
“This has been a high-profile issue,” said Saunders at the March 27 meeting.
Saunders then explained that a staff committee comprised of the administrative services director, the recreation director and himself, “will follow the same method we do for any type of request for proposal.” The committee will pick and rank no less than three of the top proposals and those will be brought to the commission for approval.
“Rent is not our main focus,” said Johnson. “We’re looking at service and reliability.”
Saunders said, “The evaluation will not be based on any one factor but all of them together.”
Proposal criteria include experience, scope of services, details of business operations and rent value.
Commissioner Ward Friszolowski said, “I think it’s a good process and the selection committee is exactly who I would have expected. Though this is partially price-based, it’s really a service that the city is providing. Both of those are great locations. Lots of residents and visitors that are coming to visit them so we want to make sure that that is an ideal experience.”
At a mandatory pre-proposal meeting, 17 people picked up packets, said Saunders. March 27 was the deadline for sealed bid proposals and six were received.
Oath of Offices, Vice Mayor Election Completed
Running unopposed in the March 13 municipal election cycle, two candidates automatically won re-election to serve two more years as commissioners. Terri Finnerty of District 1 and Ward Friszolowski of District 3 were sworn into office during the March 27 meeting.
Friszolowski “has spent the last 25 years working for the city and I didn’t want that to go by without a little recognition,” said Johnson. In appreciation, Johnson presented Frisolowski with a freestanding plaque. In addition to being a member of various municipal boards, Frisolowski has served eight years each as the mayor and as a commissioner. For five years, he was the vice-mayor.
“My philosophy has always been, it’s easy to criticize what we’re doing. Step up and help out,” said Frisolowski. “You don’t have to do it in elected office. You can be on a board or you can just come and talk to us.”
Also on March 27, current Vice Mayor Frisolowski made a motion to elect Commissioner Melinda Pletcher of District 4 as the new vice mayor. The motion was unanimously approved. The official process stipulates that a current vice mayor cannot be re-elected to the post and the intent of the resolution was to have commissioners rotate, said Frisolowski.
Parking Pay Station Plan Approved
A request representing the fourth and final phase of a four-year plan to upgrade existing 13-year-old parking pay stations located throughout the city was unanimously approved at the Tuesday, March 13 meeting.
Cale America was awarded $67,650. To date, 24 of the 35 units have been replaced.
According to city documentation, quoted pricing per pay station matches that of equivalent ones recently purchased by the city of Madeira Beach for $6,150 each, which is more competitive than similar purchases recently awarded by the city of Treasure Island at $6,800 each and Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation at $6,800 each.
Commissioners also discussed future technology upgrades that would allow the city to remotely change the price of parking to different amounts for specific events and for peak usage times in addition to allowing motorists to use popular cell phone applications to make parking payments.
Proclamation Honors Support Our Troops
Johnson recognized the Support Our Troops volunteer effort in a formal proclamation on March 13 for “the immeasurable joy” that it brought to soldiers.
The program “sent thousands of goodie bags to our military personnel located overseas and at home,” he read from the proclamation. “Many volunteers have spent countless hours packing boxes with supplies that were donated by our residents and businesses. Volunteers included personal notes to help members of our armed forces feel closer to home.”
Support Our Troops began on October 20, 2008 and closed their doors on January 24, 2018, said Johnson.
Finnerty led a slideshow presentation about the history of the group showing photos as she thanked volunteers and various donors who provided items like cash and postage stamps to the effort.
She noted that for years, St. Pete Beach hoteliers offered free vacation stays to troops and their families.
“They were so generous,” said Finnerty. “All of the people of St. Pete Beach were generous with their time, money and gifts.”