INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – City commissioners unanimously approved a resolution April 8 authorizing the city manager to execute a contract that will allow a company to rent chairs, umbrellas and cabanas at the county and Indian Rocks Beach access park.
In an effort to offset maintenance costs, staff discussed several options to create a revenue source and settled on issuing a request for a proposal March 12 for specific beach rentals at the park, 1700 Gulf Blvd.
The city received one proposal for the service from a company that has several contracts in place in the Tampa Bay area, Advantus Leisure Management Services.
The company proposes providing a minimum of 60 sets of two chairs and an umbrella or cabana during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for a five-year term with two automatic two-year renewal options.
The company said it will operate the rental business in the same manner as it has operated those on Caladesi and Honeymoon islands for the past 27 years and other parks.
Under the proposal, Indian Rocks Beach would receive $9,000 on an annual basis. The city’s maintenance costs run about $13,825 annually.
City Manager Gregg Mims said he has looked into the contract that Madeira Beach has with Advantus, and it “has covered every conceivable thing that you want covered.”
Commissioner Phil Hanna asked if there were escalation clauses involved pertaining to the city’s income.
Mims said he can’t be certain of that since Advantus is the only bidder, but he thinks “there’s an opportunity to do that on the front end.” The specifics will have to be negotiated as part of the contract.
Commissioners Terry Hamilton Wollin thanked staff for bringing the resolution to the commission, calling it “brilliant.”
“I don’t know anything about the umbrella concession business, but I do know that restaurant that they own and operate in Dunedin, and I know concession on Caladesi Island that they’re operating – those are class acts. And so I’m completely comfortable with your decision with this,” she said.
Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association Vice President Phil Wrobel expressed concern that the proposal would open a door for more rental operations that would compete with local businesses, such as the surf shops on Gulf Boulevard.
“I can just see the jet skis out there, and people coming and proposing more and more and more,” Wrobel said.
Mims said city officials are aware of the businesses in town that rent surfboards and related equipment; the proposal is limited to umbrellas, beach chairs and cabanas.
Advantus’ proposal came with several references, including Scott Robinson, park manager of the Gulf Islands State Parks. He said in the seven years he has been affiliated with the company, he found them to be very professional in their dealings with park visitors and the state park system.
The proposal said that all potential employees are thoroughly reviewed and screened prior to hiring, through the use of a federal verification program and comprehensive background checks.
As part of its partnership with the county in running the park, the city is responsible for the maintenance of portions of the park, including landscaping and restrooms. Parking revenues are shared on a basis of 60 percent to the city and 40 percent to the county.
“It’s nice that something offset the cost to us to maintain the park for the public’s benefit,” Mayor R.B. Johnson said.
In other matters, commissioners:
• Authorized staff to begin work on a lighting project at the Indian Rocks Nature Preserve.
The project is estimated to cost about $6,903 and will be fully funded by a donation from Action 2000, an Indian Rocks Beach civic organization.
The energy-efficient green lighting system will be driven by a transformer with a photocell sensor for automatically turning the system on and off with no adjustments needed for daylight savings time.
• Heard a report from Mims on a traffic safety meeting he attended April 8 in North Redington Beach along with the sheriff and representatives with the beach cities.
Mims said recent traffic fatalities in the beach towns were discussed and the possibilities to reduce accidents.
“You can’t control the actions of all individuals, but I think you will see a stronger presence, particularly with the Sheriff’s [Office] with citations and warnings to not only the driving public but pedestrians to make sure they are aware what the rules are,” Mims said.