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Camp Helen Latest State Park Where DEP Withdraws Its Vendor Search Plans

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has cancelled plans to get business proposals from potential vendors for Camp Helen State Park in Panama City Beach. It’s the latest panhandle state park to have those type of plans withdrawn, after area residents voiced concerns.

As the agency looks to add more services, DEP Spokeswoman Tiffany Cowie says keeping what she calls the “flavor of the park” intact is a priority. That’s why after listening to numerous complaints from residents about adding things, like recreational equipment rentals or food and beverage services, she says DEP decided to take a step back.

Camp Helen State Park

“It’s as simple as wanting to offer ice cream to visitors who were visiting if they’re hot in the day. Another concern was the benches that we were going to have out by the beach with umbrellas…some people felt that that changed the landscape, and they weren’t happy about that. So, we’re willing to consider it, but that doesn’t mean it’s off the table. It just means that we are reevaluating for the time,” said Cowie.

DEP recently cancelled similar plans to get vendors to help enhance visitor services at Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach.  After receiving many complaints from residents as well, Senate President Don Gaetz, and his son, State Representative Matt Gaetz convinced the agency to reconsider its decision.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.