State park in negotiations with bidder

Matt Algarin
Henderson Beach State Park may soon be offering concessions to guests, joining other state parks throughout Florida.

After soliciting plans for business at Henderson Beach State Park, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has begun negotiating with Park Venues, LLC.

"An agreement is currently being drafted, based on projections of services," said Mara Burger, a public information specialist for the FDEP.

Park Venues, LLC, which is headed up by Chairman William Hagerman, Shannon Howell and Ryan Olin, plans to offer a variety of services at the state park that saw more than 250,000 visitors in the 2012-1013 season.

Based on its submitted business plan, there will be food services (both prepared and prepackaged); beach rentals (beach chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling); land rentals (bicycles, segway tours, golf carts); classes and interactive sessions (nature education presentations, exercise and yoga); marine camps and ecotours; parent's night-out camps; and reef fishing tours.

"We look forward to providing additional venues in the park that will create greater community involvement and provide Destin's citizens and guests with a rewarding experience," Howell told The Log.

Park Venues, LLC would also manage and provide all aspects of conducting events in Henderson Beach State Park, such as beach weddings and pavilion rentals, which must be reserved in advance. The company will also offer wheel chair sand skids/sleds, beach wheel chairs and golf cart-based tours for those with a handicap.

Retail sales are also included in the company's business plan. This could include apparel, suntan and sun block, fold-up beach chairs, beach towels, and a variety of beach toys.

Dunavant Enterprises, Inc., which owns the adjacent Henderson Park Inn, is also a partner in Park Venues, Howell previously told The Log. Dunavant, which is also behind the proposed Henderson Beach Resort Project, has a "keen interest in the ecological preservation and conservation" of the park, ensuring that it's not "over commercialized."

Park Venues was the top choice for Henderson Beach State Park out of the nine total business plans submitted. Burger said Park Venues "proposed to provide the best services to park visitors with the best return to the state of Florida."

"Our team is excited to be chosen for this venture in Henderson State Park," Howell told The Log Monday. "It tells us the state has confidence that we will put safety and natural resource management first, while simultaneously maximizing revenues for them."

Once the documents and contracts have been reviewed and agreed upon, the actual plans will move forward. Howell said they expect everything to be wrapped up in the "near future."