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Lido Beach pool and pavilion
Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 4 years ago

Residents still skeptical about Lido pavilion proposal

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After scaling down a restaurant and removing a mini-golf course from the plans, a potential new vendor for the Lido pool and pavilion has made some progress with residents.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

As Troy Syprett outlined his group’s revised proposal for renovating and operating the Lido Beach pool and pavilion area, it was clear the residents in attendance were more receptive than they had been at previous discussions.

Unfortunately for Syprett, that wasn’t a particularly high bar to clear.

On Thursday, Syprett and city staff led a discussion regarding the updated plans for the Lido pool and pavilion. Syprett, the co-owner of Daiquiri Deck, is a representative for Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners LLC, the group the city is negotiating with as a potential vendor for the Lido properties.

The city began its search for a vendor in 2014, seeking a private operator that would also agree to fund improvements to the pool and pavilion. In 2011, the city considered closing the pool out-of-season for financial reasons, but an appeal from residents led to a quest to arrange a new public-private partnership.

Originally, the plans from Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners were designed to be eye-catching. They included a mini-golf course and a 305-seat restaurant. After a harsh reception at a February Lido Key Residents Association meeting, though, the city has been working with Syprett’s group on a revised vision for the pool and pavilion.

Those changes were evident Thursday. The mini-golf course was removed from the proposal entirely. The footprint for the restaurant had been reduced to 200 seats, just 50 more than are currently in the concession area, Syprett said.

The changes to the proposal were a reflection of the desires of the community, Syprett said — and an indication that he’s not interested in creating a product that will lead to clashes with residents.

“We’re looking at creating a family-friendly facility,” Syprett said. “We want this to be integrated with the feel and nature of Lido Key.”

Syprett said he wanted to recapture the spirit of the Lido Casino, a former iconic local destination demolished in 1969. The group plans to name the restaurant Castways at Lido, an homage to the bar and restaurant that operated out of the casino.

Although some attendees called the new plans an improvement from the original proposal, there were still numerous concerns shared at Thursday’s meeting. David Riedlinger, a resident who lives on Benjamin Franklin Drive, said he believed the city should use its own funds to improve the pool and pavilion.

Not only did Riedlinger think it was important for the city to retain control of the public property, but he expressed concern about how an expanded restaurant would impact the character of Lido. Several residents asked questions about traffic, noise and hours of operation associated with the restaurant and 30-seat tiki bar included in the proposal.

“What’s really important to realize is that each key has a unique flavor,” Riedlinger said. “If I said, ‘Holmes Beach, Siesta Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key — somebody wants to party.’ Which one would you tell them to go to?”

Syprett said both the restaurant and bar would close around sunset, though many details regarding the potential operations are still to be determined. The revised plans also include the addition of public parking spaces.

David Boswell, the city’s purchasing manager, said the timeline for negotiations is still fluid. If city staff and Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners reach an agreement regarding the management of the pool and pavilion, a contract would eventually be brought to the City Commission for final review and approval.

If a deal is struck, the city would still retain ownership of the property, which would be leased to Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners. The private group would assume responsibility for funding improvements to the pool and pavilion, staff said.

At today’s meeting — as he has in the past — Syprett attempted to assure residents that a renovated pool and pavilion area would respect the desires of those living in close proximity to Lido Beach.

“You have to be sensitive to the neighbors around you, or else all you end up doing is end up creating conflict,” Syprett said.

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