- February 11, 2016
As Troy Syprett outlined a revised proposal for redeveloping the Lido Beach pool and pavilion the evening of Aug. 18, it was clear residents were more receptive than they had been to previous plans for the city-owned property.
Unfortunately for Syprett, that wasn’t a particularly high bar to clear.
Syprett and city staff led a public workshop 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 operator for the Lido properties.
The city began this search in 2014, seeking a private group to run and 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 Aug. 18. 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 the 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.
“What’s really important to realize is that each key has a unique flavor.” — David Riedlinger
When residents asked why the city wasn’t keeping the existing concession vendor in place, staff explained that the pursuit of a private operator came from city officials acting on recommendations from the Lido Key Residents Association. City Commissioner Susan Chapman, in attendance at Thursday’s meeting, said her main priority regarding a potential agreement is maintaining public access to the beach and pavilion.
The city already charges a fee to use the Lido pool, and Syprett said most of the property would continue to remain open to the public. Still, Chapman said she remained concerned about the revised proposal for the pavilion area.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings about it,” Chapman said. “I don’t want to privatize the public beach.”
David Boswell, the city’s purchasing manager, said the city has the ability to dictate terms regarding public access — or any other areas of concern — in any contract with a private operator.
Boswell plans to provide an update regarding negotiations to the City Commission within the next 60 days. If city staff and Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners reach an agreement regarding management of the pool and pavilion, a contract would eventually be brought to the 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.
“In my opinion, they’re showing good faith that they want to work with the neighborhood.” — Carl Shoffstall
Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association, said the group hasn’t had a chance to formally meet and discuss the updated plans. He agreed there was less criticism at Thursday’s meeting, though, and he personally believes Lido Beach Redevelopment Partners is making an effort to respond to the concerns of residents.
“We’ve got a group that’s willing to put the money into it,” Shoffstall said. “In my opinion, they’re showing good faith that they want to work with the neighborhood.”
At the Aug. 18 meeting, as he has in the past, Syprett repeatedly 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.