By Tim Pallesen
A year of controversy has ended with beachgoers raving about the comfort of new oak chaise lounges with 3-inch-thick cushions.
“We’re the first cushion testers. These are the most amazing chairs we’ve ever sat in,” college student Samantha Kline said as Oceanside Beach Services unveiled its new furniture on Delray Beach’s municipal beach on Feb. 22.
“The seat cushion is perfection,” beach regular Francine Mitzman agreed. “This is absolutely phenomenal.”
The jubilation signals a happy ending to the hard-fought question of whether the city could get a better deal on a beach services contract with a vendor other than Oceanside, which has been providing cabanas, umbrellas and chairs at the city beach since 2002.
A previous city manager had extended Oceanside’s contract without competitive bids in 2012. Mayor Cary Glickstein and Commissioner Shelly Petrolia made competitive bidding a campaign issue when they won the March 2013 city election.
Glickstein, Petrolia and Commissioner Al Jacquet voted to seek bids for the beach contract last May. Only Oceanside submitted a bid, offering $300,000 a year for five years, compared to $170,000 that it paid before.
Commissioners voted 3-2 in October to accept Oceanside’s bid, with Glickstein and Petrolia objecting.
Petrolia was still fighting Oceanside at a Feb. 4 meeting, when the new beach furniture hadn’t arrived as promised. But it arrived Feb. 22 and everyone, including Petrolia, appeared happy.
“I showed people I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do,” she said. “Hopefully it’s been worth the wait. It certainly was an initiative that brought value to the city.”
“Shelly is right,” Oceanside owner Mike Novatka agreed. “The city got more money and nice new furniture for the beach.”
The first 100 groupings of two oak chaises, table and umbrella are now in place. Another 150 groupings will arrive March 21.
They rent for $40 a day or $500 annually, up from $30 a day or $400 annually for bulky old cabana setups that will be phased out in March.
The comfortable cushions come as the mayor says the political controversy over the beach contract must end.
“Everyone wants to move on,” Glickstein said at the Feb. 4 meeting. “I believe we need to get past this.”
“Sometimes business gets mixed up with politics,” Novatka agreed. “I’m happy that I’m still here.”
At the beach, the happiness is all about the new 3-inch cushions.
“You want to be comfortable,” explained Mitzman, who sunbathes with her husband, David, for six hours every Saturday and Sunday. “You don’t want to get up at the end of your beach day and have to say your back hurts.”