Lido Key residents say they’ve gotten no details on a lease agreement that would turn the Lido Beach pool and pavilion over to a private operator.
More than nine months ago, the City Commission directed city staff to negotiate with a private company on a contract to manage the Lido Beach pool and pavilion.
Lido Key residents have been keenly interested in how those negotiations have proceeded. So far, they say, they’ve gotten few details from city staff.
“We’ve asked several times, and they said they were working on it,” said Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association.
On Monday, Nov. 6, staff intended to present a copy of a lease agreement for the Lido pool and pavilion to the commission for consideration and, potentially, approval. With the commission agenda still not public as of the afternoon of Nov. 1, Lido residents had not seen the contract — and were eager to review it as soon as possible.
“We’re totally in the dark,” said David Riedlinger, a Lido resident who has opposed plans to turn the public property over to a private operator. “I’ve tried to reach out. I’ve tried to ask questions. We’re just told, ‘We’re taking care of it. We’re in negotiations.’”
The City Commission ended up postponing its discussion regarding the Lido pool and pavilion Monday. Commissioner Willie Shaw missed the meeting with an illness, and the lease agreement needs a 4-vote supermajority to pass. The commission will revisit the topic Nov. 20.
The proposal to lease out the Lido pool and pavilion has been contentious since an initial public meeting in February 2016. Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners LLC, a group including Daiquiri Deck co-owner Troy Syprett, is seeking to add a 200-seat restaurant in the pavilion concession area, among other changes.
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, staff contested allegations that Lido residents have been shut out of the process. Through a city spokesperson, Purchasing Manager David Boswell said he had addressed all questions he had heard from Lido residents. Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Fogle said he wasn’t aware of any concerns after the commission directed negotiations to continue in January.
“I can only speak for myself: I haven’t heard at all from any residents since the meeting,” Fogle said.
The city pointed out that it has held two public meetings regarding the plans, and the public will have a chance to comment on the contract at a commission meeting. Even after the city postponed its discussion Monday, the commission offered those in attendance an opportunity to speak about the pavilion proposal.
Fogle said the city wasn’t in a position to divulge many details while negotiations with Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners were ongoing. According to a memo Boswell provided to the Sarasota Observer, staff had prepared a draft of the pavilion lease agreement for internal review as of Oct. 25.
That agreement runs for at least 10 years and up to 30 years. The first three years of rent are $80,000, $90,000 and $100,000 — or, in the third year, 3.5% of gross sales, if that figure is higher. After that, rent increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index, with minimum increases of 2% and maximum increases of 4% annually. The maximum operating hours for the pavilion are 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days a week.
The city is responsible for 50% of all costs associated with repairs or replacement of the roof or under-slab plumbing, but the tenant is responsible for all other operations and maintenance expenses.
Shoffstall said Lido residents had hoped to have another meeting with city staff to review the terms of the contract before the commission made a final decision. In particular, he said, residents are insistent the pavilion and beach remain publicly accessible.
Both Syprett and city staff said public access is a priority in any agreement. Boswell highlighted some components of the contract designed to achieve that: Lido Pool must remain open to the public for a minimum of seven hours a day, Tuesday through Sunday. The private operator must continue hosting special events the city hosted at the pavilion, unless it imposes an “undue hardship.”
“We’ve gotten some guarantees that a lot of this stuff will be open to the public,” Boswell said.
Still, concern remains among Lido residents. Once the agenda for Monday’s meeting was posted, Riedlinger said he planned to review the available documents and listen to the presentation from staff when the time comes.
“Maybe it’s great,” Riedlinger said. “I’m open to that. If they’ve got a good contract negotiated, great. We just want to make sure it’s in the best interest of the community.”
This article has been updated to reflect that the City Commission postponed its scheduled discussion regarding the Lido pool and pavilion to Nov. 20.