The Magens Bay concession has been in hands of Vernon Ball for more than 30 years, but that could all change once the Magens Bay Authority puts the operation out for bid.
During a board meeting Friday, authority members explained that they have never before solicited bids – even though a clause in Ball’s lease said they could – and the concession continued to operate on continual extensions. It is only this time around that Ball’s lease stipulated that he would be notified if the board decided to look for other operators, and authority members made it clear Friday that the notification has been given.
It is in the public’s "best interest" to open the operation up to competitive bidding, but Ball has been invited to participate if and when a request for proposals goes out, authority board members said.
An RFP has not yet been developed – board members said they still have to identify a scope of work and guidelines – but Ball said Friday that he would need to know definitely whether he would be operating the concession or not before he commits to any plans to further develop the building.
Ball spent most of Friday’s meeting talking about his plans for expanding the operation, which he said has outgrown the current facility, located near the entrance to Magens Bay Beach.
"With the amount of people that come to Magens, it’s very difficult to operate the concession the way it sits now,” Ball said.
“It gets backed up,” he continued, “and many of the complaints we have are about the amount of time that it takes to get served.”
Ball and his business partners, brothers Christos and John Dimopoulos, said that the concession kitchen has to be expanded to accommodate the larger groups of customers and that the concession should also have a presence further up the beach for visitors or residents to buy food and drinks.
Another patio with an additional stand for food and drinks could be added to the concession building in an effort to cut down on the wait time, Ball said.
Board members were concerned that the additions would increase the concession’s "footprint" on the beach, and add to the already piecemeal development of the existing building. Many of the issues with the concession existed when the lease was last renewed in 2002, but Ball’s new plans to develop the operation appeared to be more of an effort to get the lease renewed, board members said.
Christos Dimopoulos said that major work has always needed to be done to make the operation efficient, but that it would take time — six months, at least – to do the kitchen and replace some of the equipment. Dimopoulos added that the company, meanwhile, would be at a disadvantage in the bidding process because they have continued to look for ways to make the food affordable for residents and anyone else coming in could hike up the price and bring in more money for the authority.
Eight percent of the concession’s profits currently goes to the authority, board members said.
No formal decision was made during the meeting and at the end of the discussion both sides said they were happy to meet face to face to talk over the issues.
Later in the meeting, Magens Bay Authority member Elliott "Mac" Davis announced that the authority had officially been deeded, by the government, Smith Bay Park (also known as Lindqvist Beach) and a parcel of land in Peterborg located before Little Magens.
The Peterborg property would be conserved and serve as a buffer between development and the beach, authority members said.