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Voters will decide Snack Shack's fate

A commission vote sends the issue to a referendum.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA, Times Correspondent
Published August 19, 2007


As expected, the City Commission decided Tuesday to let voters decide whether to preserve the historic Snack Shack log cabin at Archibald Park.

At the same time, the commission unanimously voted to keep its parking meters and continue offering concessions, such as beach umbrella rentals, at the beachfront park.

The referendum will be held during the next citywide election on March 11.

That vote will not decide how the building will be used, however. The commission will make that decision.

Earlier this year, the commission planned to demolish the building and replace it with an open-air pavilion or other public facility. Residents protested and days before demolition was to begin, the commission delayed action pending the results of a citizen petition drive.

After the signatures of more than 25 percent of the city's voters were collected, the commission had to vote on the petition-sponsored ordinance, which, if passed, would have required the city to guarantee that it would preserve, rehabilitate and reopen the Snack Shack to the public.

By rejecting the ordinance Tuesday by a 4-1 vote (only Nancy Oakley was in favor), the issue automatically must be decided by voters, according to the city charter.

"I am in favor of a referendum," said Mayor Charles Parker. "It is my opinion this building should be torn down. When it comes to voting (in the referendum), I want you (the voters) to give some serious thought - can the city really afford this?"

The city estimates it could cost about $120,000 to refurbish the building - a cost that could be reduced by partnering with an outside group or nonprofit organization as allowed under the proposed ordinance.

Meanwhile, the commission directed its attorney to inform Alex Archibald, grandson of one of the original donors of the beach park, that the city has no intention to agree to his demand that all money-generating activities be halted at the park.

Archibald, through attorney Ken Weiss, threatened to sue the city if it did not agree. City officials said Tuesday they would welcome the suit to settle the issue of how the park can be used.

City Manager Jill Silverboard also stressed that the city is prevented legally from allowing the beach property to be used for anything other than recreation or open space.

[Last modified August 18, 2007, 23:10:35]

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