Winning proposal to manage the Navarre Beach Pier

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Kenny Wilder
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:22 am

Restaurateur offered Navarre pier contract

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Photo by Kenny Wilder - http://www.kennywilder.com

Winning bid calls for building a full-service seafood eatery

Pasco Gibson and Yolanda Wells entered the winning proposal to manage the Navarre Beach Pier at a special meeting of the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners Monday.

The 1,550-foot-long pier opened in 2010 to replace a smaller structure that was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Since that time, Pier Inc. has held the contract to manage the county-owned pier.

There were five companies in the running to manage the $8.5 million pier.

The rankings of the board put Gibson and Wells in the top spot, with Pier, Inc. coming in second. Coastal Concessions, LLC and the team of Kenny Cook, Bill Johns, and Bob Benaquis tied for third. The proposal from Hidden Treasure Water Sports Management Group was ranked last by the commissioners.

The focus of the winning proposal involves converting part of the space on the pier into a full-service seafood restaurant. Gibson has owned and operated Nichol’s Seafood Restaurant and Marina in Milton for 12 years. Wells also has experience in the food and beverage service industry.

“I’m very excited,” Gibson said. “I’m ready to get a good seafood restaurant in Navarre.”

Commissioner Lane Lynchard agreed that there are few destination dining spots in the area and that a restaurant like the one proposed by Gibson and Wells would be a welcome addition.

Their proposal also included terms that the county receive 100 percent of the revenue from the pier gate, and Gibson and Wells will take on the responsibility of paying the utilities.

Commissioners Bob Cole and Jim Melvin said that a gatehouse to provide more oversight to the comings and goings of visitors should be added to any plan for the future of the pier.

“I think that addition is something the board needs to take into consideration no matter who is the successful bidder,” Melvin said. Gibson said he was agreeable to discuss the idea.

Lease terms

The next step in negotiations between the board and the Gibson/Wells team is hammering out the length of the contract. If an agreement cannot be made, the board may then move on to the second place bid from Pier, Inc.

At the meeting Monday, County Administrator Hunter Walker suggested a three to five-year lease, with the opportunity to extend it. Initially, Gibson and Wells requested a 10-year lease.

Most of the bidders agreed that a shorter-term lease will make it hard to secure financing for the improvements that need to be done to the pier.

“It’s not that we don’t want to do it,” said Everett Ratliff, Jr., who owns Pier, Inc. with his sister, Dorothy Slye. “It’s just that our hands are tied with a three-year lease.”

Lynchard said he might consider a longer lease if the terms were right.

“I would accept a long-term lease but only if there were concrete plans to … make some substantial improvements out there,” he said.

Walker said he would like to bring a completed contract back to the board for approval in September. The current contract with Pier, Inc. expires Dec. 31.

Pier Inc.’s operation has experienced numerous conflicts with the county and the pier’s neighbors.

Chief among those disagreements was when Slye opened the pier as Hurricane Isaac skirted the coast in August 2012. County officials, who had issued a state of emergency, said the pier should have been closed.

There have also been disputes over noise, the power bill, and Slye’s decision to close the pier in September 2011 for her daughter’s wedding, among others.
Kenny Wilder
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:36 am

As a fan and supporter of the Pier Bar, I am disappointed that we will probably lose the personality of what Pier, Inc. created as a reasonably priced and destination meeting spot for the local community.

I think Pier, Inc. should disassemble the bar, after all it was their money that built it, and reassemble it on top of Sandy Bottoms. Okay, a little tongue and cheek on that one, but I do harbor some sour grapes over the loss.

Dorothy, thanks to you and your brother for 3 great years. Open something else and I'll bet you'll have a lot of support!
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Kenny Wilder
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:54 am

Kenny Wilder wrote: PNJ COMMENT: There have also been disputes over noise, the power bill, and Slye’s decision to close the pier in September 2011 for her daughter’s wedding, among others.
NOT TRUE: Disputes over noise is a joke. Only a few folks ever complained about noise. Disputes about the power bill was taken out of context. Dispute over Slye's decision to close the pier in September 2011 for her daughters wedding is a damn lie. There was a small area where the wedding party gathered and fishermen were fishing on both sides of the wedding party.

I'm very disappointed that Dorothy Slye did not win the Santa Rosa County bid for operating the pier.
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:07 pm

KW, I was ticked off when I read those comments from PNJ. Damn Democrat technique, repeat a lie often enough and soon sheepeople will begin to believe it! I think in every mention I've read about Pier, Inc., those lies are repeated in the context of the story. I'd bet that those lies factored in to the decision to not award the contract to Pier, Inc.

Shameful!
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AngelGirl
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:41 pm

Repeating lies as though they were gospel is just plain ol' lazy journalism at the very least and possibly SLEAZY and/or vindictive journalism. My opinion leans to the latter.

:|
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electriceddie
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:43 pm

Why is it that politicians have to meddle instead of leaving well enough alone. If those guys want to put in a seafood restaurant, where were they when the monkey went up for sale? The Pier bar should remain what it is ---a nice,cheap watering hole and a great place to meet people.
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:16 pm

Hmm, new operator is from Milton, the powerseat of Santa Rosa County where the majority of our tax dollars go. Not suggesting anything since I don't want the NSA (Northern SantaRosa Authority) after me.

You're right electriceddie, the monkey was vacant for quite a while. Would have made a terrific seafood establishment as we have discussed ad nauseum.
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Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:49 pm

I'll hate to lose the low-key atmosphere and prices..... but that is all.
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bjrichus
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Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:35 am

Well, I don't know if the new managers will be good or bad, despite the mud slinging going on in some places.

Can someone please explain this for me? The voting process that the county did seems upside down and can someone please answer why, when the majority voted for the existing managers, that they didn't 'win' the vote?

I wasn't there at the vote and don't know what the reasons were, but from what I have read in the media so far, it seems like there is something 'wrong' with the process.

:?:
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Linda
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Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:03 am

1. I think there is always a distrust of elected officials making decisions.

2. I hope there was a sealed/blind bid process for the selection. If not this is the issue that needs to be corrected.

3. Best of luck to the new management. My husband and I enjoy the Pier Bar atmosphere and view so I hope these remain.

4. I hope everyone will step up and welcome the new management. Mudslinging and bad vibes will not be good for the overall health of Navarre Beach.
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Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:30 am

Like many on this forum, I have built a business and know the sacrifices of time and resources that go in to that process.

I have watched over the past 3 years, Pier, Inc., take a dormant "shack" and devote the energy and personal resources and build what we have today in The Pier Bar. Albeit, knowing that the Pier Management Contract was only for 3 years, they still took the leap.

Given the misinformation that has been spread about Pier, Inc. over the past years, I just hope that the selection process was fair to them.

Linda, you're right on with the statement, "I think there is always a distrust of elected officials making decisions."

"Hope and Change" come to mind.
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bjrichus
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Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:48 pm

Linda wrote:2. I hope there was a sealed/blind bid process for the selection. If not this is the issue that needs to be corrected.
One source this morning says that a certain bid had the name of one of the officials casting a vote on it, but the name was removed from the bid when this was pointed out as a conflict of interest.

So much for any notion of fairness and due process... :cry:
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twichers
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Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:14 pm

BTW Kenny - I really like the pier photo at the top of this thread.
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Thu Aug 22, 2013 1:42 pm

I hate to hear that Ms. Pat will no longer being cooking breakfast there. We discovered her last November and truly enjoyed her VERY REASONABLE priced breakfast. She is such a hoot and they most certainly broke the mold after making her! We also enjoyed the pot luck Thanksgiving meal at the pier bar. Looking forward to it all again this November.
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Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:21 pm

I KNOW that I have beat this horse dead, but did the public, albiet via the elected reps of Santa Rosa County not have a say so into the decision to award this contract?

Kenny, you are much more educated in this process than most, can you enlighten us, or me on how this process of selection happens?

Thanks for any insight can justify this injustice.
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