Ocean club

The National Park Service will seek new proposals for the closed Fort Monroe meeting place

A new request for proposals for the site of the former Paradise Ocean Club will be announced in the coming weeks as the National Park Service reinvents its ‘vision’ for Fort Monroe’s North Beach following a series of crimes over of summer.

Park Service Superintendent Eola Dance told the Fort Monroe Authority Board of Directors on Thursday of the impending RFP, which she is working to complete in early October.

According to Dance, the National Park Service prioritizes the reputation of Fort Monroe and said the park service became aware of “real security considerations” in June, including vandalism and speed, which threatened “the Fort Monroe experience”.

Dance said the protection of Fort Monroe’s reputation was written into the Paradise Ocean Club lease, “regardless of what kind of operation was going on there.”

The site up for grabs is the former Paradise Ocean Club, a popular hangout nestled in the northern part of Fort Monroe. The club had called the location home for more than 10 years and intended to renew its lease before the National Park Service abruptly ended ongoing lease negotiations on September 1. Landlord Baxter Simmons said at the time he believed the park department decided to terminate the lease due to a shooting that injured one person in the parking lot adjacent to the beach on June 5.

In the days following the shooting, the park service reduced the national park’s weekend hours, closing beaches at 6 p.m.

In a Sept. 5 announcement, the park service said it “welcomes an updated proposal” from Simmons and others once the new request is posted on the park’s website.

“It will allow us to respond to the scope, scale and vision of the North Beach area and the type of experience we want the public to have – if they go to the Ocean Club, if they go he’s enjoying the beach, if he’s walking the boardwalk,” Dance said Thursday.

Following the series of incidents in June, Dance said the National Park Service worked with its security team and the Hampton Police Department to better respond to emergencies. The park service has also elected to create a security team, which will conduct a law enforcement needs assessment in October.

Dr. Rex Ellis, vice president of the Fort Monroe Authority, praised Dance’s public safety record, adding that visitor safety is “paramount.”

Caitlyn Burchett, 727-267-6059, [email protected]