NARRAGANSETT—The town Parks and Recreation Department will be reopening bids for potential vendors to sell sundries such as t-shirts and sun tan lotion at the North and South Beach Pavilions this summer after receiving no official bids for the original period, which ended on April 18 at 11 a.m. A number of local merchants in Pier Marketplace expressed concern that they did not know about potential for selling products at the beach area, and were afraid that their own business would be unfairly harmed.
Kathy Ryan, the proprietor of four stores in Pier Marketplace, had sent a letter to The Narragansett Times last week to detail her frustration that merchants were not adequately apprised of the bidding process.
“This was an administrative decision by Parks and Recreation,” said Ryan. “I haven’t been privy to any information about the bid and nobody informed me that it would go up for rebidding either. I was under the impression that when nobody showed up to bid, it was a done issue.”
“[The kiosks] will be defeating the purpose,” she added. “They will be down there selling the same stuff at the North Beach Pavilion and, if [the town] goes ahead, it will put me out of business. This is a bigger issue than just me because if people don’t get off the beach to buy sun tan lotion or a t-shirt, they won’t go to places like Dunkin’ Donuts. The trickle down effect will affect everybody.”
Interim Parks and Recreation Director Steven Wright stated that he did not know about the merchant’s concerns, and that although the bidding information was made available on the town’s website and in local newspapers, there was no intention on the part of the town to shut out local merchants.
“We had a mandatory pre-bid [on April 4] so we could as managers meet with any of the prospective bidders and give them details on site parameters and requirements,” said Wright. “That was a very important meeting because we didn’t want someone bidding from out-of-state. It is unfortunate that she didn’t know about it on the web or see it in the paper, but the bottom line is we didn’t get any bids and we still think it is a worthwhile project.”
“It is not our intention to exclude anybody, and we want local interest,” he added. “At the pre-bid meeting, there were five people signed in who went to that meeting and we were there for a good 45 minutes. I don’t know how to get the word out other than what they have been doing. It is a difficult one.”
Town Manager Grady Miller echoed Wright’s sentiments and stated that if no bids are received in the next bidding process, kiosks will not be set up for vendors to sell sundries at the North and South Beach Pavilions this summer.
“I feel bad because we love to see local businesses compete and ultimately get a contract for the town,” said Miller. “The purpose of it was not to compete with the folks in town, but to offer a convenience factor for beach-goers.”
“We had this idea at the end of last summer, and it would still be a really nice thing to have,” he added.
The re-opened bidding process will commence in very near future, according to Wright.