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Commission: Lido Beach Pool and Pavilion Renovation Costs Too Much

A five-phase renovation for Lido Beach Pool and Pavilion would cost $2.9 million.

City commissioners and leaders are eager to improve and renovate the city-owned Lido Beach and Pavilion, but not at a cost of $2.9 million.

Carl Shoffstall, president of Lido Key Residents Association, presented the City Commission Monday with the first cost estimate of renovations to the city-owned property, which was taken over from Sarasota County with the intention of improving it.

"I'm here tonight to say let's go," Shoffstall said of the five-year renovation plan.

At the least, Shoffstall would like the city to start Phase I with the money available, and commissioners appeared to be amenable to that, but asked for the an ad-hoc committee and staff working on the beach renovation to prepare a business plan, full first-phase estimates and how the property will make revenue.

"I don't think any of us have an appetite for $2.9 million, but we do have an appetite for starting if there is a way," Commissioner Terry Turner said.

Here's how the renovation is proposed in phases, starting in 2016:

Phase I — $366,602.44

  • Construct Outdoor Dining Area, Tiki Bar
  • Reconfigure restrooms for new consolidated lifeguard space and community space
  • Expand existing building
  • Provide revenue generating elements early in construction
  • State with simple construction text
  • Minimize disturbance
  • Address building functionality and revenue generating

Phase 2—$131,274

  • Renovate Meeting Room
  • Upgrade Catering Kitchen

Phase 3—$1,375,313

  • Build splash pad area to south of pool
  • Improve pool area
  • Build plaza shade structure
  • Hardscape renovation
  • Build small stage
  • Build rental kiosk

Phase 4—$764,987

  • Meeting Room Garden Plazas
  • Build playgrounds
  • Construct roundabout and reconfigure parking lot and drop-off area 

Phase 5—$308,389

  • Replace beach pavilion roof
  • Building exterior enhancements
  • Planting and irrigation

That's a total of $2,916,567.

Of course, there are a few issues to be dealt with.

First, there's FEMA, which requires that if more than 50 percent of the value of the structure is improved, triggering a change in elevation, the pavilion would have to be brought to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, but its a historic Sarasota School of Architecture building.

That's strictly looking at the building, and at that rate about $200,000 could be spent on the building. Yet, as the property is improved, the value could go up if the city decides to gain additional appraisals, thus increasing the threshold.

Then there's paying for the project.

As of September, Lido Pool has operated at a $28,000 deficit, which is a significant decrease, Shoffstall points out, than the $180,000 the county first estimated when given to the city.

Shoffstall believes the key revenue generator would be a vendor for a restaurant and a tiki bar there for beachfront dining.

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo, a restaurateur, agrees.

"It's a great opportunity to get some sort of food service or Tiki bar there," he said. "You'd have a line around the block for an operator there."

Off the cuff, Caragiulo figured a restaurant could figure $3.5 million revenue considering the lack of beachfront dining and rent could typically be 5 to 6 percent.

Of the $2.9 million, the committee identified $1.25 million available in combined fiscal years 2016 and 2017 from surtax sales tax funds, but then the money dries up and falls into a deficit, said Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown.

"There has to be some sort of partnership in this if it would become a reality," Brown said.

So, who will pay for the partnership? 

Public Works General Manager Todd Kucharski believes that the restaurant and Tiki bar vendor could fund some of Phase II. 

Shoffstall just doesn't want the city to sell the property off. The recently approved sale of the Palm Avenue parcel for a hotel included a measure to include the developer to pay for the pool renovation in exchange for management of the property, but that proposal was considered an "afterthought" by former City Manager Robert Bartolotta, and was not mentioned in this week's sale.

"The notion that the city would give it up is uncontionable to me. I just don't see how it could be done," Shoffstall said. "Do you want the legacy of this commission to give up that city beach? I don't think so."

Consultants completed schematic sketches, and would have to finalize design to help with better cost estimates, said Suzanne Thompson, landscape architect for IBI Group.

This version corrects the amount of rent estimated by Paul Caragiulo that the city could collect from a beachfront restaurant at Lido Beach.

Jeanne Katz October 03, 2012 at 10:55 AM
ALL SOUNDSGREAT BUT A BIT NOISY. WE LIKE OUR MORE QUIET BEACH AREA. THE POOL WOULD DO MUCH BETTER IF THE HOURS WERE MORE CONDUSIVE FOR PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WORK AND WOULD LIKE TO USE THE POOL BUT CAN'T.
RAJ (Bo) McMerritt October 03, 2012 at 12:26 PM
You only have the beach for a certain time, do what you can to improve it...
Melon Dash October 03, 2012 at 01:26 PM
It's always easy and expeditious to change things on the outside (structures, signs, glitz) to make it seem as though the core issues on the inside will go away or be alleviated. But the fact that Lido Pool doesn't make enough money to be worthwhile to the City right now will not be fixed by adding glitz. Glitz may add a bit of revenue, but it will cost more than it's worth to Sarasota, both in aesthetics and financially. Nobody in their right mind wants to add commercialism to Lido Beach. One of the best things about SRQ is non-touristy beaches which brings tourism, as well as making SRQ a great place to live. The core issues at hand at Lido Pool are that no one knows it's there and that people who live there don't use it. No wonder: there's nothing to do but play in the pool and swim laps. Residents would use the pool if there were imaginitive, community-matched programming. This is what the City called for in its RFP in February and again in July, but which it has now said it doesn't have the money to fund. A company right here in SRQ can provide everything the community wants would cost a tiny fraction of what it would cost for the glitz. And, it would not damage the natural landscape and feel of Lido Beach and Key. Yes, there need to be some additions made to the pool to make it more programmable. Do that and stop right there. Meanwhile, get the programming happening between local aquatics experts and the community. Lido Pool is a fabulous amenity, under utilized.
Melon Dash October 03, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Correction to my comment above: nobody in their right mind wants to make Lido Beach a honky tonk.
Cher Rowe October 03, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Too bad the City did not leave the Old Pavillion there, it had the dining, dance floor and tiki hut. So sad. Please don't commercialize the beach.. we like the quiet little snack bar, a feel of old Florida. Please improve it structually without adding the Glizt! Community matched programming is a great idea for more use of the pool area, swim lessons, regetta day at Lido in the summer with swiming races, etc. Just a couple idea. Please leave our quiet little island jewel alone and don't try to make it like Palm Beach!!!.
Viola Posthuma October 04, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Very excellent comment
David Jennings October 06, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I think the City Commission needs to look to the Skate Park as a model. It was operating significantly in the red until they leased it to a non profit. Allowing favorable lease rates allows the non profit to use generated capital to take care of the facility and keep it available to the greatest number of citizens.

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