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Sarasota News Leader October 18, 2013 OPINION Page 89 Cypress Lending when its contract expired in bidder was WMS Sarasota Management, a new June 2013. company with Pogrebinsky as one of the principals. The selected operator also indicated For six months, the North Port Commission it planned to seek the long-term management — almost always by the same 3-2 majority — contract. harried and hindered the process of selecting a new contractor, first by declaring it wanted Problems arose after county and North Port to sell its half of the springs, then by offer- staff members examined the facilities and ing to buy the county's share. During this discovered just how rundown most of the civic soap opera, the North Port Commission buildings and equipment were in the wake would not consider of Cypress Lending's any candidates for a departure. long-term operator. In fairness to the Sarasota County WMS Sarasota commissioners, they surely could have had Management balked at Finally, with mediation no idea that, after concluding an agreement signing the short-term undertaken and some semblance of reason with North Port to jointly purchase Warm contract unless some restored to the North Mineral Springs, their "partners" later would of the more obvious Port Commission, turn into the proverbial albatross around n e c e s s a r y r e p a i r s an agreement was the county commissioners' necks. were undertaken by finalized on how to the owners. The comproceed: A short-term pany also asked that operator would be contracted to manage the short-term agreement be extended to two the springs for a year, while a more in-depth years, so it would have time to recoup the search continued for a long-term operator. expense of leasehold improvements it made. At the outset of the saga, Dr. Grigory Pogrebinsky — a local physician who wanted to create a medical spa at the springs that would attract an international clientele — expressed interest in long-term management of the facility. Much of the North Port Commission majority's objections to such a proposal was the desire to prevent such development. Certainly, asking to change the terms of an agreement after a competitive bidding process closes creates difficulties for all parties. But the normal response should be to negotiate a mutually agreeable revision, based on the special circumstances brought on by the springs' woeful state of disrepair. Yet, after all the wrangling between com- For the scorched-earth majority on the North missions was at an end and bids entertained Port Commission, however, such rationality for the short-term contract, the successful just would not do. Led by Mayor Yates, the

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