The Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will remain at the Navarre Beach Visitor Information Center for the time being.
At their July 24 meeting, the Board of County Commissioners shied away from issuing an immediate 90-day notice to the Chamber. Instead, the commissioners directed staff to find solutions to alleged friction between Chamber and Tourism Development Office (TDO) staff, find space for new TDO employees and to eventually set a date for termination of the lease.
Several members of the public defended the Chamber’s current lease and location.
After 24 years at its present location in Navarre Park, the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce will be given 90 days to vacate the Navarre Beach Visitor Information Center if the Board of County Commissioners approves the action. The commissioners will discuss the agenda item at their July 24 meeting.
“Our main concern is that we were officially notified when we looked at the agenda,” Chamber Chairman Mike Sandler told this paper. “It seems kind of strange after having a relationship with the county for this long.”
However, in a video posted to Facebook July 21, District 4 commissioner Rob Williamson said: “This is something that the Navarre Chamber has known is coming for quite some time. This is something that staff has been in constant communication for the better part of a year. This is not something that came up quickly – this request that we would need to have that entire building for tourism operations.”
The county leases the Chamber approximately 400 feet of office space at the Visitor Information Center, according to county documents. The Board of County Commissioners agenda cites the potential addition of two staff positions to the Tourism Development Office and the consolidation of storage space as reasons to recommend the termination of the Chamber’s lease.
The Chamber has been located in Navarre Park since 1993. According to Sandler, the Chamber had planned to reconstruct its own building after it was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. However, when a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant became available for construction of the Visitor Information Center, the Chamber withdrew its insurance claim and canceled its loan for the new building, Sandler said.
Sandler also said the Chamber was responsible for the purchase of new furniture for the visitors center and contributed toward capital expansion and improvements of the building.
The Chamber has rented offices in the Visitor Information Center as part of a recurring lease since the building opened to the public in 2008. The current two-year lease began in 2016 and expires March 2018.
More information will be available in the July 27 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.