TREASURE ISLAND — By Memorial Day weekend, a 36-foot-high water slide could become a major attraction on Treasure Island's public beach.
In fact, Cathy Hayduke, the city's recreation director, is hoping the 3,700-pound Hippo Slide will be erected in time for the city's all-day Bands on the Sands event May 28.
That beachfront event behind the Bilmar Beach Resort will feature food, arts and crafts vendors, and seven bands playing from noon until 11 p.m. A fireworks display is planned at 10 p.m.
For the slide to be part of the festivities, a couple of things do need to happen first.
The City Commission is expected to give its approval at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Then, the state Department of Environmental Protection must give its permission, as well. That process can take a month or more.
Hayduke said once the commission gives the go-ahead, she plans to help the Oceanus Slides concession owner, Brent Palmer, get a rush permit from the state.
The slide would be at Gulf Front Park, the former county park, at 10400 Gulf Blvd. and would operate from 9 a.m. until sunset March 1 through Sept. 30.
"I am very excited and I am hoping we can at least get permission from the state in time for our summer recreation program. Our kids would really enjoy playing on the slide," Hayduke said.
The slide is similar to the one operating behind the TradeWinds Resort in St. Pete Beach. It is also similar to a slide that previously operated at St. Petersburg's Municipal Beach on Treasure Island.
St. Petersburg rejected allowing a new slide at that beach, according to Hayduke, because of "several ongoing lawsuits."
One of those lawsuits was filed against St. Petersburg several years ago by Gregory Taylor, who alleges the city does not own the beach all the way to the water and should repay Taylor money he says the city improperly charged him for operating on the sand at the city's beach park.
While the lawsuit is ongoing, the Taylor Beach Concession continues to rent beach cabanas, lounge chairs and umbrellas to people visiting Municipal Beach.
Hayduke said St. Petersburg suggested that Treasure Island consider allowing Palmer's water slide concession on its beach.
"They didn't want to see something that worked really well for their beach passed up by our beach," Hayduke told the Treasure Island commission last week.
The inflatable slide is 180 feet long and 47 feet wide and can be ridden by over 500 people, usually children, every hour.
The cost would range from $2 for an individual ride to $22 for an all-day pass, according to Palmer.
The city would receive 20 percent of the gross revenue if it grants the concession — an amount that could be as much as $1,000 a day, Hayduke said.
As part of the agreement, the city would provide the concession with power and water.