NAVARRE BEACH — The Navarre Beach Fishing Pier could get a major face-lift following Santa Rosa County commissioners' decision to come up with a short list of management companies.
Commissioners agreed Thursday to whittle the list of 11 vendors down to three finalists.
The contract with the pier's current management company, Coastal Concessions, expires in December. Coastal Concessions is in its third year managing the business, which includes the pier's bait and tackle store and a restaurant, Lagerheads on the Gulf.
County Commissioner Rob Williamson said Coastal Concessions has not made improvements to the fishing pier as planned.
The vendor's failure to meet expectations prompted the county to focus on turning the pier over to another management company come Dec. 31, according to Williamson.
"One misstep after another has resulted in an overall sentiment that the current provider isn't a long-term solution for the county," he said.
Commissioners on Monday reviewed written proposals from the 11 prospective vendors. Many promised extensive renovations, such as expansion of the building's deck, adding a playground, offering a food truck court, building a coffee shop, replacing Lagerheads on the Gulf with a new restaurant and more.
More modest proposals included minor beautification changes such as renovating the pier's bathrooms and installing palm trees.
It's now up to the commissioners to decide on the top three proposals at their Sept. 11 and 14 meetings.
The finalists then will appear before the board Oct. 9 to present their ideas.
Williamson said he believes the county needs a vendor who will turn the pier into a family-friendly, world-class guest experience.
"We want to be focused in on providing an effective fishing pier, first and foremost," Williamson said. "It's then we can offer additional income for the county by adding rental operations, hosting events and partnering with our tourism agencies."
Terry Wallace, the county's utilities supervisor, said the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier needs upgrades to its bathrooms, restaurant and bait shop.
"We would like to see the restrooms upgraded," Wallace said. "That's one of the projects we have in our budget for next year. We were hoping a new vendor would come and do a makeover."
Williamson agreed, saying he hopes for a long-term leaseholder who will correct problems and offer consistency and value for the county.
"Let's improve the pier," Williamson said. "Let's improve the county. Let's improve the amenities brought here."