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Community Voices: A captain’s perspective: The marina project needs to jibe

Bill Herrmann

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The redevelopment plan presented by the City and the vendor fails to meet the needs of both Downtown St. Petersburg and the boating community. The plan’s deficiencies alone could fill a page. The best example of their failure to meet the needs is the “Margaritaville” design theme. How does that style complement DTSP?

The process used to select this vendor was NOT the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, but as a lease. As a “lease” the selection process was hidden from both Council input and public review. Had this been an RFP, Council would have had input on the rating criteria, the public could sit in on selection committee meetings, we could all see the rating criteria and review the committee members’ ratings of the various submissions. Instead, the Sunshine City selected this vendor without the transparency that the Florida Sunshine Laws were designed to provide.

Making the selection of the best vendor even more difficult is that NONE of the individuals involved have experience owning or operating large yachts. As a coastal city there are numerous professional mariners that reside here. There are also many others who are in the marine industry. These licensed professionals visit many marinas around the country and, some, internationally each year. Instead of seeking competent objective guidance in selecting the best vendor and designing the world-class marina we deserve, our mayor and his staff have sequestered themselves avoiding public input or any review of the selection process.

The City Charter expressly forbids leases of over five years without a referendum. Yet staff is negotiating a contract that, the last time it was made available, had significant penalties if the public referendum failed to pass. If the public’s choice is approving a long-term contract with a less than ideal vendor, or paying several a huge “liquidated damages” settlement, is that really a choice?

This project desperately needs a reset. It needs to have a well-thought-out RFP published. That RFP must include an option for outsourcing redevelopment and insourcing O&M. The City needs to develop a Marina Advisory Board to, at least temporarily, provide competent input. Any long-term contract should be approved via referendum, without economic penalty if it is not approved.

Hopefully, Council does not approve this terrible marina plan being presented by a less-than-ideal firm. Hopefully, the City taps into the wealth of knowledge available here.

 

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    CaptAndrew

    March 25, 2021at3:46 pm

    Well said Bill. Most of us were wondering where this company came into the picture.

  2. Avatar

    Natalie Stockard

    March 26, 2021at1:25 pm

    I agree that the color scheme as presented to boat owners was generic, at best. I wrote privately to Joe.Zeloi@StPete.org suggesting that walls of new/overhauled buildings could be painted by local muralists. He liked the idea enough to pass it on to Safe Harbor Development, the likely contracting company. Others in the marina think that the bridge at Demons Landing could be painted in the same way. If you agree, please contact Joe to show your support.

  3. Avatar

    John Kramer

    March 26, 2021at3:45 pm

    I agree the city should put out an RFP to subject this redevelopment to public input. There is a great opportunity here to do it right and with input perhaps Safe Harbor is the right partner. But all of us need to be on board. I am reminded of Riviera Beach Marina about 15 years ago: it was a real mess, now totally redone and owned by the city and I believe run by Loggerhead. Let’s tell the city to reset.

  4. Avatar

    Simone

    April 6, 2021at7:50 pm

    What group is everyone on to send planned letters to city council tomorrow? Mass=Energy. They serve We The People

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