MADEIRA BEACH — Nearly completed extensive redevelopment at Archibald Park and renovations to its historic Snack Shack concession building will soon offer residents and visitors a glimpse at the vibrantly changing landscape in Madeira Beach.
For years, the Snack Shack served food, drinks and beach items, first to veterans and then to beachgoers.
Within the next month, the 1930s-era log cabin-style building will get a fresh coat of paint, what City Manager Shane Crawford describes as a light mango instead of its present dark "haunted house" look.
"It will be bright and inviting and beachy," Crawford said.
The new look will complement the nearly $1 million in other improvements done or nearing completion at the city's gulffront park: a redesigned and landscaped parking lot, new lighting, a new deck at the rear of the Snack Shack, and buried utilities along Gulf Boulevard.
"It will be absolutely beautiful and the first thing you see when driving onto Madeira Beach from the causeway," said Mayor Travis Palladeno.
The updated Archibald Park is one of a growing number of improvements that will drastically change the landscape — a new city hall, fire station and recreational complex, a new hotel, and new restaurants and businesses.
Management of the historic concession building at Archibald Park is now in the hands of Tampa-based United Park Services, which also is the long-time operator of campground concessions at Fort De Soto Park, as well as recreational venues in Ybor City.
The company will pay $72,000 a year in rent, nearly double the amount the city received from the previous concessionaire.
When reopened in February the Snack Shack will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as acoustic entertainment in the evenings.
"We are very proud to be a part of the new vision for Madeira Beach," United president Alan Kahana told commissioners this month when they awarded the company the Snack Shack Archibald Park concession.
Crawford said the firm will make major improvements to the interior, as well.
"They will be substantial, including air-conditioning and an exhaust system," he said.
In contrast to the previous concessionaire's contract, those improvements will become a permanent fixture and cannot be removed.
Previous concessionaires Rita and Mike Janecek removed all the improvements they had made to the Snack Shack after the city canceled their contract in September over concerns about how they were running the beach facility.
That was not the first time the city has had problems with its Snack Shack operators.
About a decade ago, the Snack Shack was forced to close its doors, when the National Park Service objected to a concessionaire's plans to open a destination restaurant in the building.
The resulting lawsuit eventually cost the city a $500,000 settlement in 2007.
Use of the building and the park is sharply restricted by the federal government.
The city received ownership of Archibald Park in 1972 when the Department of the Interior deeded the park and the log cabin to the city with the provision that it be used only for public recreation.
The deed allowed recreation-related concessions, but not for primarily profit-generating activities.
Alex Archibald, a descendant of the original property owner who donated the land to the federal government in 1931, repeatedly but unsuccessfully challenged that deed, arguing that the original deed prohibits any commercial use on the property.
In 2008, city voters overwhelmingly supported restoring the Snack Shack. The city commission at the time had considered demolishing the deteriorating building, but was stopped by the citywide referendum.
The Snack Shack reopened to the public in 2010 after the city spent about $200,000 in renovations so that food and beverages could once again be available to beachgoers.