Jesse Burnett said he and his 14-year-old son live within walking distance of Pioneer Park and it is not unusual for them to stop occasionally and play basketball or watch the skateboarders at adjacent Stewy’s Skate Park.
Burnett noticed the sad state of disrepair the concession stand at Stewy’s had become and decided he wanted to do something about it
Burnett was one of three who made the deadline to submit a proposal to the county to take over the stand and make it a going concern for the kids.
“It looks bad,” Burnett said.
One of Burnett’s competitors, however, is someone he knows well: his older son, Mikal Burnett.
Mikal also submitted a proposal to the county and would like the chance to run the concession at Pioneer Park, 6799 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill.
Mikal called it “a friendly competition” and vowed to support his dad if the county decides to give it to him.
“I believe I can help the community, the kids, give them sodas and snacks,” said Mikal Burnett, who lives in Spring Hill.
If he gets the franchise bid, Mikal plans to bring in professional skateboarders to the park and hold other events to attract visitors.
“The kids there have complained they have to walk a long way for drinks so why not have it all right there?” Mikal said. “I want to provide that service if possible.”
Dad Jesse Burnett, a former restaurateur from California envisions selling hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and beverages so skateboarders don’t have to make the lengthy trek to a convenience store.
It only takes a creative hand to make that a thriving concern and perhaps eventually add more programs, such as volleyball, at the park, Burnett said.
But Jesse said if his older son wins the franchise bid, he will share his business savvy to help him.
“If he gets it, I’m going to do what I can to make him a success,” he said.
The third applicant, Sean Cunningham of Brooksville, believes he can make Stewy’s a going concern because he knows how to skateboard and is not perceived as an outsider. He would also sell skateboarding equipment there if he gets the concession rights.
Cunningham said he and his family have patronized Stewy’s for seven years and has watched many of the boys and girls become young men and women. He believes he can be a “father figure” to the kids.
“Stewy’s has been a big part of my life and I thought it would be great to run it,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham said he wants to have professional skateboard demonstrations at the park and plans to sell bottled water, beverages and pre-packaged foods and sandwiches.
Assistant County Administrator for General Services Russ Wetherington said a review committee will start evaluating the three proposals later this month, rank them and send a short list of recommendations to county commissioners.
Wetherington said the county will work creatively with the ultimate bidder to put together a contract that will make the most sense for Stewy’s and Pioneer Park.
The skate park came close to closing last year due to budget cutbacks. Only a last-minute barrage of petitions from residents prompted commissioners to keep it open.
Wetherington is hopeful one of the three proposals will make the grade so Stewy’s can once again be a thriving concern.
“It’s definitely encouraging,” Wetherington said of the three proposals.