July 14th will certainly be a sad day for islanders, whether they be part–time or full–time, as well as visitors to our piece of paradise here on the Southwest coast of Florida. Tony “Smudge” Smith will be stopping his operations on that day. A 32-year run as the concessionaire at Tigertail Beach, he will be ceasing his operation.
That is the politically correct way of putting it. I will just simply say he is being forced out!
Since his youth as a Grenadier Guardsman in his native England, Tony Smith understood what it was to stand in battle, and when his lovely wife fell ill, he was once again called upon to take on another challenge in his life, and together they walked through that battle and came out the other side stronger than ever.
“Smudge” has known that cards have been stacked against him for over a year now. He has fought a valiant battle against a bureaucracy that has been bound and determined to see his livelihood stripped from him. First, through a questionable bidding process, next through a county staff member that has been less than cooperative and somewhat combative in their dealings with him.
The last straw came when the County over the last 60 days chose to create a financially punishing concessionaire agreement which could have put Smith into bankruptcy and ruin his family business.
Collier County’s lack of care and maintenance on Tigertail Beach may not be coincidental and the fate of the once–popular destination is now in question.
Coastal Breeze News will have a more in–depth story in next week’s edition.