Concessions may be coming to Henderson Beach State Park.
While local park manager Daniel Laird says he is not authorized to speak on the subject, state officials say the idea of concessions in state parks is nothing new.
"We have 80 concessions that already operate in our state parks," said Martha Robinson, internal communications manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP's Division of Recreation and Parks is currently soliciting "calls for business plans" for a small food service operator, recreation equipment rentals, some special event operators, and merchandise sales at the state-owned park at 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway. The change would make the park more appealing as a destination for water activities and group events like weddings.
Robinson told The Log it would be up to the individual business to determine whether or not they would operate a mobile vending service or a brick and mortar operation. On-site tours will be given to interested bidders so they can see the property and learn what rules they would have to comply with.
"Everybody gets the same type of playing field," Robinson said.
Those interested in submitting a bid must attend a mandatory meeting Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. at Henderson Beach State Park. Proposals must be submitted no later than Feb. 11.
Ideally, Robinson said, they would like to have the process completed by summer.
With 80 parks already offering concessions to visitors, Robinson told The Log this is not uncommon, but an opportunity for the state parks to offer "more services."
No bids had been received as of Tuesday morning, Robinson said.
For more information about the bid process or to register for the mandatory meeting, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/Parks/bos/vsp/2014/01_14.htm. The meeting is open to the public who are interested in the process.
The park, which is often referred to as the hidden jewel of the Emerald Coast, boasts more than 6,000 feet of shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as 60 campsites tucked inside the sand dunes.
The Log asked our Facebook friends what they thought about the concessions proposal at Henderson Beach State Park. Here's what they had to say.
Nonie Celeste: Leave it as is! Keep your businesses out of our parks! People go to state parks for simplicity! No concessions! There is a Wal-Mart across the street.
Sue Dunbar Kaufman: Simple and pristine! There is more than enough businesses and concrete blocking the beautiful views! Save what is left please.
Mike Martin: Its appeal is the natural beauty. Vendors will attract those who will destroy the family atmosphere. Visitors already pay a hefty entrance fee... just for that reason. Turn it into a PCB and those tourists will go to the east.
Susanne White: Why not food trucks?
Kevin Brown: Food trucks would be great.
Kim Farris: Leave it as is! It is perfect the way it is and food trucks are not necessary at all. There are many places to get food and pack a picnic... isn't that part of the fun of time spent at the beach anyway? Geez, this has me so upset. If this happens it's about the same as another concrete tower ruining the beauty of Destin and it definitely will ruin Henderson Beach State Park...