Navarre Pier's Future

This is where you can find the Pier fishing reports, Pier photos of those huge fish, and other information. This is a beautiful place to walk along the Pier and shoot memory photos of the Pier and Navarre Beach. Bring your camera and post your Pier photos here!
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Sat May 18, 2013 8:24 am

I came across an article that I believe was published in the PNJ on May 1, 2013. It addresses the present proprietor's of the pier (Pier, Inc.) and those that wish to be once the contract is up. Commissioner Melvin for whom many have said they have issues with, says that Dorthy Slye and her brother, who operate Pier Inc. have used bad judgement in a few cases. One, keeping the pier open during Isaac last August and closing the pier for her daughter's wedding, among others he states.

In my opinion, closing the pier during a potential hurricane (although not one yet) is probably a prudent idea. I happened to be out on the pier when that storm came through and I did ask myself why the pier was not closed. However, water was NOT coming over the top of the pier. What I have an issue with, if this article is correct, and had I wanted to fish or walk during this particular time is, closing the pier to the public for a manager of the pier (not an owner), daughter's wedding. Pier Inc., does not own the Pier, the County does, does it not? If this was indeed the case and being reported as it is in the PNJ, I have to assume it is, that was indeed poor judgement.

As you can see, at the bottom of the page it shows the various, "improvements" to the Pier by all the perspective manager's. Pier Inc. apparently wants to remodel the restrooms. I CAN NOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH WHAT A GREAT SUGGESTION THAT IS. The restrooms at the Pier are very much in need of a more sanitary remodel. Frankly, they are disgusting.

Another issue with him(them) is Mrs. Slye taking upon herself to do, "improvements." I appreciate the initiative to improve by Mrs. Slye but I have to believe any improvements to a county owned facility must be approved by the powers to be at the County level, correct?

As for the music, I can see both sides on this one. A few weeks back, I was staying on the beach in Pensacola at the Travel Lodge and literally right next door was a club that played very loud musice until 2:00 a.m. I had a very difficult time sleeping. So, I can understand the condo next to the pier having issues with the music. I do applaud Pier Inc for addressing the problem and trying to find a solution, (noise barrier) although apparently, it is not THE solution....yet. I am wondering if this problem should have been addressed well prior to the completion of the pier, especially if both parties knew there would be live music on the pier.

It kinda sounds like the County is on a witch hunt, although I have to agree with it's sentiments on a couple of issues. Any thoughts on this.

Santa Rosa County commissioners on Monday are expected to begin evaluating proposals dealing with the future of the Navarre Beach Pier.

We hope commissioners accept the best proposal for the county and its residents. We also urge them to keep an open mind on making a change from current management which has been enmeshed in several controversies since the pier opened nearly three years ago. It’s a decision that should not be taken lightly.

We agree with Kate Wilkes that the pier is an important attraction for the county. Wilkes is executive director of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council.

“People love it,” she told Louis Cooper for a story published Monday. “People like to watch it from their balconies, or go over and take their kids. It’s the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico and in the state of Florida.”

And you can’t doubt the financial boon it has generated for the county. As Cooper points out, last year, 30,000 people paid daily admission to fish there while 100,000 paid the fee to stroll out there. Combine that money with the 300 annual passes to fish or walk and the county received $327,632.

While the numbers are impressive, the current manager, Pier Inc., has had its share of controversies, most notably with keeping the pier open as Hurricane Isaac approached in August, despite a state of emergency in the county. Pier Inc. is owned by Dorothy Slye and her brother, Everett Ratliff. Their three-year contract with the county expires at the end of the year. They are among five proposals the county will consider.

Also, neighbors have objected to the live entertainment, Slye taking it upon herself to make unauthorized improvements and, incredibly, her closing the pier for her daughter’s wedding.

Commissioner Jim Melvin, a chief critic of Slye’s, said keeping the pier open with a storm headed this way was “very poor judgement.” It’s hard to disagree that keeping the pier open was the responsible thing to do, especially during tourist season when many might not understand the danger of being near the Gulf with a storm brewing.

Here is a recap of the contenders and what improvements they would make:

» Pier Inc. would remodel restrooms and, within in two years, add a full-service restaurant.

» Coastal Concessions would add bicycle and chair and umbrella rentals; yoga classes; and would use local ingredients for sandwiches and salads at the concession stand.

» Pasco Gibson, Yolanda Wells would “establish a quality restaurant.”

» Hidden Treasure Water Sports Management Group would look at the feasibility of running a zip line from the pier to the adjoining beach; add kiosk shops; and would serve seafood, coffee and beignets.

» Robert Benaquis, Kenny Cook would add a two-story deck, with the top level devoted to food, drink and live entertainment.

Commissioners have seven months to mull over these proposals which offer interesting options. However, a priority should be to find a manager with a track record of making good decisions.
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Sat May 18, 2013 8:38 am

I support 100% Dorothy Slye and her Brother who operate the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. They have performed their Pier service in an excellent way. I hope that they are awarded another contract to operate the Pier after all the bids are considered.
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Sat May 18, 2013 8:42 am

It kinda sounds like Melvin is wanting a replacement. I take it there is bad blood between the two? Isn't Melvin the one who seemingly has trouble and conflict surrounding him?

Personally, with the exception of having a couple of run in's with "troublemakers" on the pier over the last couple of years, I have been pleased with my time on the pier. I am a huge fan though of a re-do of the bathrooms.
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Mon May 20, 2013 9:47 am

I too support Pier, Inc. to continue with the contract. They have invested their capital to develop what has become a destination spot for locals and tourist alike.

I thought that I had read from previous posts (going back maybe a year or so) that Dorothy did in FACT, NOT close the Pier for the wedding and that people could be seen fishing in the background of the pictures taken. I wish that whoever has first hand knowledge of this would re-post and rebutt this critical item that continues to come up in this contract discussion.

Reminds me of a damned crooked politician who keeps repeating a lie until it is accepted as fact! I hope that someone can either verify that the Pier was indeed closed, or refute. IF it can be proved that it was still open, someone needs to publish an apology and cease repeating this in every publication that comes up about the contract.

One of the new proposals mentions adding a 2 story deck with live music. Isn't that one of the items of criticism that also continues to come up with Pier, Inc. Wouldn't a band playing on the 2nd level generate noise to the condos as well??

I have stated in previous post that my major criticism is with the smokey environment during the off season when the enclosure is installed. I choose not to go during the off season, but I truly enjoy going during the season and appreciate having that as an option on the beach.

Best of luck to Pier, Inc. during this process. I know you have alot of support in the community.
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Mon May 20, 2013 10:26 am

As for the allegations of closing the pier for a private wedding, I would also welcome the actual facts. We would logically assume that if a Santa Rosa Commissioner was making this accusation and it was published in a public newspaper, that he would have actual fact and proof that this did indeed take place. If not, he is setting himself up for a heap of trouble. Was this disputed on the side of Ms. Slye (Pier, Inc)? I do find it hard to believe that the manager, not the owner, would close a public pier for her own daughter's wedding (as that would set her up for possible trouble) but stranger things have happened on both of these points.

As I stated, I have had wonderful times on the pier since it's reopening and apparently Pier Inc is doing a fine job. I would like to see the smoking issue resolved as well during the winter/Spring months and also new bathrooms, as Pier Inc., has stated they would like to do.
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Mon May 20, 2013 10:40 am

Prior to this new pier going up and Pier, Inc. taking over the management, who managed the previous piers?
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Mon May 20, 2013 1:59 pm

More information on the new contract proposals for operation of the taxpayer owned $8.4 million dollar fishing peir and ancilliary operations on our fishing pier platform on Navarre Beach.The BOCC will discuss this lease at a meeting in a few months and the new contract will go into effect Dec 1, I believe.

Following information was copied from Concerned Citizens of Navarre forum site and was apparently originally copied from the Navarre Press dated 4-18-2013

"Five companies are vying to manage the Navarre Beach Pier, including current contractor The Pier, Inc., owned by Navarre busi­nesswoman Dorothy Slye and her brother, Everett Ratliff, Jr.
Santa Rosa County commissioners voted Jan. 24 to approve extending the current lease through November and to solicit bids for pier management. The decision was made to extend the contract to avoid a possible transition during the peak tourism season. All proposals were to be submitted to the county by 10 a.m. April 9.
The five bidders are: The Pier, Inc.; Coastal Concessions, LLC; Hidden Treasure Water Sports Management Group; Pas­co Gibson and Yolanda Wells; and Kenny Cook and Robert Benaquis.

The Pier, Inc.
The contract between Slye, Ratliff and the county went into effect June 25, 2010.
Slye and Ratliff are request­ing a 20-year lease. In their proposal, they tout their past performance such as imple­menting Florida’s “Take a Kid Fishing” program and donating more than 800 fishing rods, tackle boxes and t-shirts for the event; purchasing bench­es for public use; expanding the pier restaurant deck; and keeping the pier clean. The Pier, Inc., bid claims the Pen­sacola Beach pier and the Gulf Shores, Ala., pier have begun implementing the same con­cessions offered by The Pier, Inc., at Navarre Beach.
Ratliff and Slye propose to:
¦ Collect pier gate revenue and pay 5 percent of gross receipts after $75,000 of annual payroll cost associated with pier receipts’ collection is paid. The present lease requires all gate receipts be remitted to the county and the gross receipts of any ancillary businesses can be kept by man­agers.
¦ Pay the power bill. At present time, the contract requires that only $250 be paid monthly for utilities and the county pays the balance. Utility expenditures in 2011 for the pier and related facilities were more than $41,000.
¦ Provide onsite management on the pier; install and maintain landscaping; rebuild, expand and maintain public restrooms; keep the pier clean of all litter; operate a snack bar in the existing building until they can expand to a full­service restaurant; offer fish­ing equipment, bait and oth­er items needed for fishing; maintain a website with updated information; research and compare fishing and sightseeing rates; purchase an upgraded pass system; and reconfigure the gate area for better access control.

Coastal Concessions, LLC
Coastal Concessions, LLC is owned by Scott Rayner, Joe Bryant and Steve Hancy, childhood friends who attended Gulf Breeze Elementary School together.
Coastal Concessions recent­ly was selected to provide concession services at Fort Pickens campground store and laundry, the Firehouse Snack Bar and Langdon Beach at the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
In their proposal, they state that, in their experience, the general public and visitors cannot distinguish between the manager and the county.
“The way we present our­selves, the services we provide and the prices we charge are a direct reflection of Santa Rosa County,” reads the proposal in part. “We have talked to key county representatives, interviewed personnel, local residents and visitors, to ensure that we provide the needed items and services that most would overlook.”
Key proposals include:
¦ The county will retain 100 percent of the pier gate collections revenue.
¦ The county will receive 2 percent of all revenue from ancillary businesses including food, beverages, merchandise and rental income.
¦ Coastal Concessions will donate 4 percent of their annu­al profits to the Santa Rosa County School Board
¦ Coastal Concessions will pay all utilities
¦ Coastal Concessions will clean and maintain the pier on a daily basis.
¦ The contract will be for a minimum of three years Coastal Concessions will use Coldwater Gardens, Cur­tis Penton Farms and Petsels Blueberries as local vendors for produce and Joe Patti’s Seafood and Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market for seafood.
Beverages will include local craft beers, Costa Rican coffee and exotic South American teas, as well as slushy drinks, Coca-Cola and Pepsi products and Anheuser-Busch products.
Coastal Concessions will provide bike, beach chair and umbrella rentals, as well as providing fishing gear rentals and snorkel equip­ment rentals. Other services Coastal Concessions intends to offer are yoga classes, surfing and paddle board lessons, large float rentals, boot camp and run/walk club exercise services, and free movie nights.
Coastal Concessions also would promote local artists by showcasing and selling their works of art, as well as offer­ing other merchandise such as clothing, postcards, sun­glasses, toiletries, cameras and other items.

Hidden Treasure Water Sports Management Group
HTW is co-owned by Gary Hartman and Kirk Bergeron. HTW proposes to remit 85 percent of all pier gate receipts to the county and retain 15 percent; and remit 15 percent of all ancillary businesses to the county and retain 85 per­cent of ancillary business receipts.
“Our offer is based on the suggestion that Santa Rosa County should not be excluded from benefits and financial rewards of commissary areas, nor should HTW Management be excluded from the same of the Pier,” reads the proposal in part. HTW put forth the possibility that current management is “more focused on its own areas of income, and as a result, the Navarre Pier’s wonderful potential is not being properly met.”
Other proposals include:
¦ Creating an aesthetical­ly pleasing arched pier entrance with a ticket booth offering information about the local area, as opposed to the pres­ent chain-link gate
¦ Pier boardwalk kiosk shops; fish-cleaning and -pack­aging services below and away from the pier fishing area; rental equipment such as fishing poles, carts and ice chests, among other fishing-related equipment; walking, touring and fishing the Navarre Beach Pier; and a zip line.
¦ Improvements to the pier would include lowering the volume of amplified music; requiring employees to wear appropriate uniforms so cus­tomers can distinguish employ­ees from customers; minimizing the beer/wine bar to allow for more seating and to make the snack bar area more family-oriented; ensuring all service and cooking surface areas are regularly checked and cleaned.
¦ Installing four portable hand-washing stations in strategic locations along the pier.
¦ Capitalizing on the pier’s status as the “Longest Fishing Pier on the Gulf Coast” with a marketing campaign to include billboards, radio, Internet and local advertisers.
¦ Offering a menu that includes coffee and beignets, as well as seafood, unique appetizers, hamburgers, Po­boys and desserts.
¦ Cleaning and repainting all areas.
Pasco Gibson and Yolanda Wells
Gibson and Wells are from Santa Rosa County and pro­pose “to provide adequate sup­port personnel to maintain the pier and concessions related to the pier. We would like to establish a quality restaurant where patrons would be able to have a delicious meal in a relaxed environment, while enjoying the view of Navarre Beach and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Key proposals are:
¦ Remit 100 percent of pier gate receipts to the county
¦ Pay the electric bill
¦ Maintain a family-type environment and provide staffing for fishing pier oper­ation
¦ Open to negotiations regarding all aspect of pier operations Proposed services include:
¦ Onsite management and maintenance of the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier
¦ Keep all litter, trash and large debris from public park­ing area; keep pier clean of all litter and trash; and maintain clean public restrooms
¦ Provide bait, tackle, fishing equipment rentals, snack items, among others
¦ Convert outdoor area and indoor space into a full service restaurant
¦ Rates for fishing and sight­seeing as comparable to surrounding areas, and offer discounts for yearly passes and disabled veterans
¦ Host fishing clinics and tournaments to the local com­munity
Kenny Cook and Robert Benaquis
Cook and Benaquis are self­described lifelong residents of the Emerald Coast who were classmates at Choctawhatch­ee High School. Benaquis owns TC’s Front Porch.
“We’d do everything the past contract agreement says such as a professionally run operation, management of the grounds and public facilities, and taking all measures of safe­guards for the health and well­being of patrons. We’d assure the county of transparency by constructing an accountable entryway that registers visi­tors entering the pier complex so the county receives its prop­er revenue,”reads their proposal.
They propose improvements such as constructing two lev­els, with the bottom level being an open walkway with concessions and a bait-and-tackle area at the pier entrance.
The second level would offer dining and beverages that could be enclosed in inclement weather.
“This concept would eliminate the noise controversy with Summer Winds, ”reads the proposal. They also propose extending the three build­ing sides facing the Gulf of Mexico to allow for an outdoor dining and seating area, at their expense.
County commissioners will discuss the proposals during the May 6 committee meeting."
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Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:42 am

Circumstances turned a few weeks trip to N.C. into a stay of a few months so I am not up to recent events at the pier, even missed all the spring pier fishing for the first time in many years. I would have addressed this subject earlier but my lap top also caused me lack of net access, along with other problems, and finally I got it replaced.

Per Sandstomper's request I can repeat what was explained by me and others in more than one post on this forum when the question first came up of the pier being closed for a wedding. The simple way to do this is to post the very quote from one of my previous regarding this issue. For those that missed it before, I did highlight some key words. Further post may be researched as I did this one. See the following:
"Some, which do not know better, trying to micro manage the pier, only adds to that already being done by a few with the County, as our local Commissioner, who also have, like most politicians, no idea what they do. Some of you may even believe the falsehoods they read in the local mullet wrapper whose owner has been picking a bone with the pier manager long before the new pier was built. It’s a cat fight! One of the falsehoods was as a front page headline “The pier closed for a wedding” which it was not. Believe me, it was not closed, I was there. I should add that many events, weddings, funerals, school events, nature seminars etc., have been held over the years of all the past piers. This wedding added $300.00 in walking fees to the County paid for by Ms. Slye since it was her daughter's desire to be married there. This wedding was blown more out of truth by someone who fished that day, yet said he was run off. He can clearly be seen in the wedding photos, standing against the rail fishing. No others were seen since they, politely, with respectful consideration, stood aside during the short ceremony. I should add that this person thinks he will be the next manager of the pier and is playing a political game for it. He has already lost 3 times, each by a landslide, running for various County offices. He does have a political trait though, hard for him to tell the truth."
When the short wedding was over, those that, respectfully, moved to fish elsewhere on the pier were able to return to fishing where the wedding took place.

As most, I totally support our keeping the present management. Having worked for the State Parks when they ran the pier, fishing it most every day for many years, I can, reliably, attest to their doing a terrific job in spite of the many un-necessary hurdles they have been forced to overcome. They have also invested, out of pocket, in many necessary improvements which they will stand to lose if they lose the contract.

I might also add that they have struggled to get the County to address the rest rooms. Yet the County continues to ignore, maybe they think present management will take that out of their pocket as well though it IS the County's property and their responsibility. They do supply morning clean up and tissue replacement but till the baths are redone (long overdue) clean up is sometimes a futile effort.
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Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:20 pm

David, thanks for reiterating your post regarding the wedding. Your original post is where I recalled that the Pier was not closed. I also asked Dorothy about it last weekend and voiced my support for Pier, Inc. and my appreciation for what they have done for Navarre Beach.

Best of luck to Pier, Inc. during this process!
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