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Ted Sperling Park
Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 23, 2016 6 years ago

County proposes allowing payments at Lido park

The county and city are working on a potential rule change at Ted Sperling Park that would allow commercial operators to accept payments on-site.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Sarasota County staff wants to change the regulations on private companies at Ted Sperling Park to allow customers to pay vendors on-site — as long as the public and city officials are on board.

On June 14, the county filed an application with the city, initiating the process necessary to revise the rules at the south Lido Beach Park to allow on-site payments. Although the county owns and operates the property, Ted Sperling Park is located in the city, where regulations prohibit commercial transactions.

The county first implemented regulations overseeing these private operators, which offer kayak, stand-up paddleboard and other water vessel rentals and tours, in 2013. The changes would allow visitors to pay operators with cash, credit card or via smartphone. “Intrusive sales tactics” would remain prohibited, the application states.

Although there was pushback about the regulations from private companies, public feedback was the impetus for the proposed rule change, according to county Operations Coordinator Tricia Wisner. Since the water vessel program was implemented, the county has sought resident input on the system in place.

Currently, if a visitor happens upon a tour they’re interested in taking, they have to make reservations in advance and complete the payment off-site. Customers also must wait an hour to actually go on that tour.

“If someone is walking over from the hotel across the street, and they see a company and think, ‘Gosh, I’d like to go out on a kayak,’ we’d like to make that visitor happy,” Wisner said.

About 12 companies operate out of the park on a year-to-year basis, Wisner said, and most asked the county to explore a similar rule change.

Next month, the city will hold a community workshop to gather more resident feedback. Although the process could take half a year, the workshop is a crucial step to see if the city is willing to endorse the county proposal.

“If the community is OK with it, (the city’s) OK with it,” Wisner said.

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