Dunedin officials made a deal with Glen Steinke three years ago, in an effort to right a perceived wrong.
The 20-year kayak rental concessionaire had been operating Sail Honeymoon on Dunedin Causeway under an oral contract for six years at the time.
He worked under year-to-year renewals at the city's request because officials were waiting to see how or if Pinellas County's pending plans for a larger free-span bridge joining the mainland to Honeymoon Island would impact the future placement of the concession.
In the middle of what Steinke believed were talks to extend his license agreement again in 2010, city staff discovered that he had expired on his renewal extensions, which meant the time had come for the city to put the Causeway concession to competitive bid under an RFP (request for proposal) process, according to city records and public meeting discussions.
"We screwed up," Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said in a July 15, 2010 public meeting.
Steinke feared being "kicked to the curb." He told the commission in a previous 2010 meeting that subjecting him to the competitive bidding process would potentially oust his kayak rental business off the Causeway for the empty promises of big dreamers.
"The world is full of dreamers," Steinke said during a June 3, 2010 public meeting. "Everybody, everybody that has ever picked up the contract for the concession has had unrealistic expectations of what the Causeway could produce in dollars, including myself. When I say everybody had failed. Me too. I failed. I just didn't quit."
The misunderstanding prompted the 2010 commission, which comprised Bujalski, Mayor Dave Eggers, and commissioners Julie Scales, Ron Barnette and David Carson, to agree in a 5-0 vote to hold off on the RFP process for another three years, and negotiate an interim three-year license agreement with Steinke that would expire July 31 and go to bid January in 2013.
The city also created more specific language in its RFP purchasing policy for vendors shortly after Steinke's three-year agreement was approved so that no other misunderstandings would happen in the future.
The 2013 bidding process was stalled recently, when commissioners raised questions about the updated purchasing policy. Some have pushed for a loophole that would allow Sail Honeymoon to skip the bidding process altogether, an exception given to no other business in the city.
On Thursday, March 7, Dunedin leaders are revisiting Steinke's expiring agreement and the policy during a public meeting at City Hall.
Steinke agreed in 2010 on a $1,000-a-month fee, a roughly $300 increase in his existing fee at the time. He would be responsible for maintenance, weed control, cleaning of the land, removal of litter in the area, and monitor the cleanliness of the bathrooms nearby.
His dreams of a longterm contract haven't changed in three years. And even though city officials said they are not required to award the highest bidder, Steinke remains wary.
Steinke told commissioners in 2010, he didn't know what the city wanted to change about his business on the Causeway.
Trying to calm Steinke's fears of being "kicked to the curb," Eggers responded that the RFP process is meant to see exactly "what other dreams are out there."
"I don't think the city knows what they want in addition," Eggers said. "That is really the purpose of an RFP .... Just seeing what is out in the market place."
Steinke maintains that the Dunedin Causeway is no place for big dreamers.
"I literally had friends walk out there one winter where I was counting change — and I'm not talking quarters — I'm talking dimes and nickels to get enough gas money to get back to work the next day," he said in 2010. "That's how tough it is to get it started out there."
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The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.