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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 7, 2019 1 year ago

City pivots on Lido pavilion

After a lease agreement with a private operator fell through, the city is moving forward with plans to renovate the beach property.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Last month, the city nixed contentious plans to redevelop the Lido Beach pool and pavilion under a private operator. In the wake of that decision, city officials are plotting the best way to improve the public facility in need of rehabilitation.

On Feb. 27, City Manager Tom Barwin outlined the city’s latest strategies for pursuing upgrades to the property, located at 400 Benjamin Franklin Drive. The document said the city hopes to continue concession operations and make modest improvements to the existing building. The city has $1.25 million already set aside for pavilion upgrades.

The city is working with architectural firms to develop cost estimates for repairs to the pavilion. The city has targeted restroom upgrades, kitchen improvements and roof repairs as possible items to be considered as it produces plans for restoration.

The current concession operator has agreed to a six-month extension of his permit with the city. The city is preparing to put out a request for proposals seeking a long-term lease with a concession operator. City staff is also looking at options for repairing the hood system in the concession area. Barwin said the city would consider working with a food truck vendor if necessary for food service while the building is renovated.

At Monday’s City Commission meeting, opponents of the previous pavilion proposal encouraged the city to engage with the public as officials develop plans for renovations. Cathy Antunes, a member of the Save Lido Pavilion Committee, said residents were concerned about the process that resulted in the city approving a controversial lease agreement for the pavilion in 2017, only to reverse course last month.

Antunes and other critics of the lease agreement asked for an open, collaborative process for deciding what’s next for the pavilion.

“Ideally, the public leads, gives input about their facilities and how they want them used,” she said. “The commissioners represent the public, and then the commissioners direct the staff to take it in the direction the public would like — especially when it comes to our most important asset, our beach.”

City spokesman Jason Bartolone said the process of planning improvements to the pavilion is still in a preliminary stage. The city has not established a firm timeline for a project — or discussion of the scope of any renovations.

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