That is if the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners approves a site design and complaints against the bar are unfounded.
"I think the need is there and the people are there," said Commissioner Bob Cole during the commission's Oct. 14 meeting. "But I would like clarification; do we have a problem and are we keeping it family-friendly? Noise is going to be noise and I don't care if we make the deck 10 times as big as long as we can still take kids out there."
On Jan. 28, the commission awarded a contract to Dorothy Slye and her brother, Everett Ratliff Jr., to manage the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier. The contract stipulates that the two – co-owners of The Pier, Inc. – pay $250 per month for utilities, provide daily trash collection, ensure the cleanliness and safety on the pier, concession area and pier store and ensuring patrons adhere to all pier rules.
Onsite management includes providing "amenities such as bait, tackle, rental equipment, food and beverage and other miscellaneous items," "a high level of supervision, safety and maintenance of the pier which will ensure that the pier can be enjoyed equally and safely by all members of the public," and "for a quality family-oriented use of the pier as a multi-recreational facility."
But some are contending that since The Pier, Inc., installed The Pier Bar and Grill, the fishing pier is no longer "family-friendly."
Laurie Gallup, owner of Navarre Properties, which manages the Inn at Summerwind on Navarre Beach, told commissioners that several of her guests have complained about the noise and access to the restrooms on the pier.
"I'm curious as to what the purpose is of the deck because the pier itself is nearly a mile long," Gallup said. "Guests are complaining about the noise and these are people we've spent $1.5 million to entice to come to Navarre Beach, the place we've touted as a peaceful environment."
As of Oct. 14, there have been 69 logged reports with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office since the pier's June 5 opening. The reports detail complaints of an indecent exposure, intoxicated persons, prisoner transport, non-family disturbance and a robbery. The bulk of the calls, however, are for a routine surveillance check of the premises, lost property, special details and reports of a suspicious person.
A spokesperson from the Sheriff's Office initially said there had been roughly 300 calls to that location since its opening, many of which did not result in a report, which can happen if a complainant refused to go on record. Navarre Press has requested documentation detailing the number of calls. As of press time, that report was still unavailable.
"There isn't anything that's derogative or negative about the pier," Robert Smith, a Navarre resident and avid fisherman, told commissioners. "If we're going to look at loud noise, let's talk about the bikers who tape off the whole parking lot...Juana's is right there, no one is complaining about that."
During the same time period, June 5 – Oct. 14, there were 116 calls to Juana's Pagodas – also on Navarre Beach – for which reports were written. There were also 33 reports written following responses to Cocodrie's Restaurant, which shares a parking lot with the pier.
Since Cocodrie's was closed the bulk of the 2010 summer season, Navarre Press requested the reports for the same time period – June 5 – Oct 14 – in 2009 for comparison.
The reports filed were similar to complaints filed against the pier.
"There might have been more calls but where there are reports written, the officer deemed it serious enough to write it down," said Rob Lutz, a crime analyst with the sheriff's office.
The Pier Inc.'s request to expand the pier was vague and informal: it was not accompanied with plans or a purpose, Gallup said.
"In addition to the bar and band," Gallup continued, "access to the public restrooms are blocked. Several parents have complained that they have to walk through chain-smoking, beer-drinking patrons to take their kids to the bathroom."
Slye suggested that Jim Wendel, industrial arts and construction instructor at Navarre High School, and his students help construct the deck expansion at Slye's expense.
However, since the construction might be deemed a capital improvement because the pier is county-owned and was constructed with public funds, Commissioner Jim Williamson said the project should go out for bids.
"We'll pay for it and then she'll reimburse us," Williamson said. "Because it's being built for her use, her business as manager."
The deck expansion would be a permanent fixture, from which The Pier, Inc., may not always be the beneficiary; its contract with the county expires in three years.
Slye said admission fees have earned the county more than $143,000. The business also has hosted shrimp-boils, kids' fishing tournaments and, recently, a pumpkin carving contest.