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Snack Shack still an issue

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
Published May 23, 2007


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A public forum Monday night was supposed to help the city decide the future of the historic beachfront Snack Shack, but may only have succeeded in confusing the issue further.

Responding to public pressure, last month the City Commission backed off its decision to demolish the Snack Shack, but has yet to decide what use, if any, would be appropriate for the building.

"Herein lies the problem: preservation vs. economic development, " said Jerry Keenan, a consultant hired to facilitate the forum discussion.

At the end of the two-hour meeting, City Manager Jill Silverboard said she isn't sure how she will advise the City Commission. "We need more dialogue, " she said.

The two-dozen citizens attending the forum appeared to split into three camps:

-One to "save" the Snack Shack by renovating the building and returning it to its historical role as a refreshment center for beachgoers;

-Another that wants a more in-depth study of future uses for the entire Archibald Park, including the Snack Shack;

-And a third that favors tearing the building down and replacing it with a "spectacular" tourist destination facility such as a museum and/or band shell.

Eddie Lee, who has filed a petition calling for passage of an ordinance requiring renovation of the Snack Shack, defended the log cabin-style building as an important part of the city's heritage.

The commission could approve the ordinance or put the issue on the ballot in a citywide referendum vote.

"First things first - save the Snack Shack, " Lee said, suggesting it could serve as a public meeting facility or a venue for weddings, as well as offering food and drinks to beachgoers.

Lee estimated it would cost between $50, 000 and $100, 000 to renovate the building to meet current codes.

"We need to redefine the use of the park, " Shaw said, suggesting that the Snack Shack could be donated to Heritage Park or some other historical group.

One voice not heard during the forum was that of Alex Archibald, grandson of one of the original owners who donated the property to the federal government in the 1930s for use by veterans.

Archibald is opposed to any commercial use of the park or the Snack Shack, and has threatened to sue the city if it allows food and drinks to be sold from the building.

"The city is at risk of litigation, " City Attorney Michael Connolly cautioned.

[Last modified May 22, 2007, 20:30:28]


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