MADEIRA BEACH — Visitors to Pinellas County's beach park here will be able to use restrooms and public showers later this month when the city halts all maintenance activities.
"The transition will be seamless. We will make sure we have maintenance people to address cleaning of bathrooms," said Paul Cozzie, the county's director of culture, education and leisure.
He said the city has made it "pretty clear" that it no longer wants to maintain the park or collect parking fees from city-owned meters.
"The biggest thing for us is getting some type of parking fee collection system going again. The worst thing that will happen is people will get some free parking out of this," Cozzie said.
The county has yet to officially inform the city that it will be taking over operation of the park, said Monica Mitchell, Madeira Beach finance director.
The city recently notified the county that as of Feb. 16 it will no longer maintain or provide other services at the beach park, located at 14400 Gulf Blvd.
The action was taken after the city and county failed to reach an agreement on the wording of a revised contract spelling out the city's duties.
The city has maintained the county beach and collected parking fees from city-owned parking meters for nearly three decades.
At issue was the amount of liability the city would assume for providing the services. The city wanted its liability limited while the county wanted the city to assume unlimited liability.
When the county did not yield on the liability issue, both City Attorney Michael Connolly and City Manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. recommended the city cancel the contract.
In the past, the city made roughly $5,000 in profit each year from the parking meters.
Mitchell said the change will not force the city to lay off its beach park workers.
"It will just free them up to do other things around the city," Mitchell said.