Saving Lido Pavilion

The Detail

BY CATHY ANTUNES SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 29, 2018

It’s been over one year since the City Commission approved a sweetheart deal to lease Lido Pavilion to Gavin Meshad, a local developer, and Troy Syprett, owner of the Daiquiri Deck. But the deal cannot move forward unless the City Commission approves a Major Conditional Use zoning change and the Site Plan. The hearing to determine Lido’s future—whether our park will become a destination bar and restaurant—is scheduled for January 14 at 1:30pm.

Lido Pavilion used to be maintained by Sarasota County. The County was forced to participate in maintaining City Parks due to a lawsuit in the 1970s. City taxpayers pay both County and City taxes, and the courts agreed City residents weren’t getting their fair share of services in exchange for our tax dollars. The County was forced to provide services, and the settlement included City park maintenance.

In 2007, knowing the parks settlement agreement would be expiring soon, City voters approved setting aside $1.25 million to upgrade Lido Pavilion. Those dollars continue to sit in City coffers. They must be used as the voters directed, and not for any other purpose. This is more than enough money to make simple upgrades that are FEMA compliant. FEMA has reviewed the proposal submitted by the applicants and determined their plans are not compliant. Bottom line: the City has enough money to upgrade the bathrooms and improve the facility. We don’t need a private partner to upgrade the pavilion and keep Lido family friendly.

The applicants, Mr. Syprett and Mr. Meshad, want to put a 33-seat bar and deck with standing room for 70 between the pool and proposed restaurant area. That’s larger than any bar on Main Street or St. Armand’s Circle (Smokin’ Joes Pub has 29 seats). Just 50 yards from the beach, walking by the bar would be necessary for many beachgoers looking to use Lido’s only public beach restrooms. Would you want your teenaged daughter, in her swimsuit, to have to navigate her way through the bar area to use the bathroom? What’s to stop a 21 year-old from buying a beer, taking it to the beach and giving it to a minor?

Lido Beach Pavilion is the City’s third most popular park. Bayfront Park is first, then St. Armand’s Circle Park. The Pavilion is frequented by 48 percent of City residents. It’s our beach This proposal would make it harder for residents to enjoy our park. FDOT says parking on Lido is already tight: a 540-space deficit on the key. The applicants are planning a $243,000 annual marketing budget and $84,000 a year for live entertainment. Clearly they plan to attract many more people than the current beachgoers. Adding 54 spots to the 308 space public lot won’t begin to absorb the increased demand. Public beach parking will be squeezed into oblivion.

Over 4,300 people have signed a petition to oppose these changes. Join us. Urge the City Commission to deny the proposed changes. Let’s keep our park.

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