SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY The county declined to extend
the consessions contract at Cafe on the Beach despite
a petition signed by more than 1,000 Cafe patrons. Here,
concessionaire Dee Percifield-Shaefer watches as Roger
Simmons, of Ruskin, adds his name to the list.
BRADENTON – Manatee County commissioners last week refused to reconsider their decision to seek requests for proposals (RFP) for an operator for the concessions at the Coquina and Manatee public beaches.
Commissioner John Chappie asked for a commissioner from the prevailing side to make a motion to reconsider, but none offered. According to Roberts Rule of Order, a motion to reconsider must be made by someone who voted on the prevailing side. Chappie and Commissioner Carol Whitmore voted against the original motion to seek RFPs.
Dee Percifield-Schaefer and her husband, Gene Schaefer, as P.S. Beach Associates, have had the concessions since 1992 and had a five-year extension that could have been approved by the county.
"Think about renewing our last five-year contract," Dee Percifield-Schaefer told the board. “We feel with the economy like it is, you’d be better to keep us because you know you’re going to get your check on the table the day it’s due and we will continue to do a good job."
"We’ve worked as team to keep everything under control from the menus to the service to the cleanliness and the facility in general," Schaefer added. "One of the key issues is to keep it safe for families and we’ve done that.
"We ask you to reconsider and give us the opportunity to fulfill our contract so that we can keep doing what we believe is an outstanding job at that beach."
More than 1,000 patrons of the concessions have signed petitions asking that the couple’s contract be renewed.
Vice Chair Donna Hayes said the contract is expiring and the commission must follow the rules by seeking bids. Commissioner Ron Getman said he has received a large number of e-mails in support of the current operators.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore cited the recent New York Times article about the Island, it’s eateries and laid back atmosphere and pointed out, "These (Gene and Dee) are the people that attract visitors to the Island. The things they’ve done there keep us known all over the world."
Commissioner Joe McClash said the decision does not reflect on the job the couple has done, but he wants to "exercise the option to see what the market is like. It’s a business decision on the county’s part.
"The county administrator gave us assurance that the first priority will be given to the existing vendor. It puts everybody on notice that they have a high standard to meet."
Chappie asked that officials in the cities of Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, where the concessions are located, be consulted throughout the process.
"We fully intend to vet the RFP before this board and any other interested parties before we put it out on the street," County Administrator Ed Hunzeker stressed. "We’ll be taking to the mayors and interested parties and make sure that it’s fair, open and well publicized before we go forward with the offer."
McClash suggested that representatives of the two Island cities be on the RFP review committee.