ARIPEKA — Third time was a charm as the County Commission commissioners Aug. 7 approved an amended lease for SunWest Park vendors and guidelines for development in the future.
The county will take over maintenance of the park Oct. 1, the start of its 2019 fiscal year, according to Keith Wiley, said as director of the Pasco Parks, Recreation, And Natural Resources Department. All parking fees after that will go to the county to defray maintenance, officials have said previously.
Pasco owns SunWest Park, but the park has been operated and maintained by a private company, SunWest Park Inc., through a lease agreement. The park, off Old Dixie Highway on the site of a former limestone mine, opened during a weekend in July 2015.
The changes will leave the park’s wakeboard vendor Patrick Panakos free to concentrate on the cable skiing services.
Commissioner Jack Mariano got clarification that Panakos’ Orlando-based company, SunWest Park Inc., will get exclusive rights for the existing wakeboarding operation, but nonexclusive rights for any expansion within three years.
County should insist on maintaining the same architectural look for any expansion, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey urged.
The original agreement, reached in 2014, placed all operations under Panakos’ private company, which defaulted on upkeep and other terms in 2017.
Mariano said the prolonged negotiations, which began in December, produced a better document this time.
“It’s time to put this to bed,” Commission Chairman Mike Wells said. The revised lease passed unanimously on a 5-0 vote.
Under the current agreement, now in the fourth year of the 45-year lease term, the rent for this year will be $15,000, county records show.
The annual rent amount will increase by 3 percent per year for the fifth and sixth years. For years seven through 10, the rent will be the greater of $15,000 or 3 percent of the tenant’s gross revenues. Rent will be re-negotiated in five-year increments thereafter.
In a July 29 memo to commissioners, Wiley estimated the total capital cost at the park for fiscal 2019 would be $413,205, with expenses predicted to be $671,109. Revenue from parking fees could generate $350,000, he estimated. Total revenue could reach $650,000, with net expenses costing $21,109.
Commissioners want Panakos to continue building up the SunWest Park wakeboarding business, but some think they overloaded him with delegating maintenance for the entire park to his company.
Panakos did not appear at the County Commission meeting and could not be reached for comments before deadlines.
Mariano previously advocated a $30 annual pass to help spur more revenue for the park. He mentioned that a federal grant also might pay for more sand for the beach to lessen erosion.
In early May, commissioners reviewed a tentative Sun West Park Rejuvenation Project presentation prepared by Day at the Beach Events and Sand Court Experts.