Beach vending will change in Walton County

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SOUTH WALTON Fla. (WMBB) — Walton County officials are implementing a different way to manage beach vendors.

On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved a request for proposals to run concessions on county-owned beaches. But not everyone is on board.

“You’d add him to the unemployment roll if you went with a single vendor,” said Walton Vendor Frank Wright.

Wright and his son’s business is one of the many small vendors in Walton County who are participating in the current manage vendor program.

The board proposed to change the way they’d award beach service concessions, which caused lots of confusion.

“Ask you to consider not to put for a single vendor,” said Vendor Will Jesevices.

Many small vendors were fighting to protect their source of income. They were concerned their beach service would cease to exist if the board put out a bid for a single vendor to operate on county-owned beaches.

“I don’t think anybody on this board wants one single vendor having all the public accesses,” said County Commission for District Five Tony Anderson. 

But that was not the board’s proposal. Commissioners extended an RFP, which stands for request for proposal based on the current concession agreement. It would be based on a competitive bid format where interested vendors will provide proposals for beach equipment services, like beach chair vending, as per the terms and conditions of the concession agreement.

“And one of those terms and conditions is you have to allow participating vendors to work under the umbrella and what that does is it still allows the small vendors to do business on the public beach,” said Beach Operations Director Brian Kellenberger.

The board unanimously voted for this change. It will go out to bid before the current managed beach vendor program expires at the end of October.

“I stood up here countless times saying it should go out for bid. I’ve been saying that for five years,” said another Walton beach vendor.

And for small beach vending businesses, it will be a good thing.

“To manage the vendors on the beach, it’s the same contract you have now,” said Anderson referring to the concession agreement.

In the next few weeks, the board will award a bid.

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