HAMPTON, Va. — Paradise Ocean Club at Fort Monroe announced Friday evening it is permanently closing after Labor Day weekend.
The business said in a social media post it had a 10-year lease negotiation from the National Park Service "taken away without cause."
On Monday, hundreds of people came out to support the club's last day.
“It would be a disservice to close this place because families have a place to go instead of going all the way to Norfolk or other locations just to find a beach to feel safe,” said beachgoer Steve Travis.
Owner Baxter Simmons said the National Park Service accepted his bid in the spring for a new 10-year lease. After that, Simmons said he didn’t hear from them until recently.
“And finally, we got a meeting on September 1, five days before the end of our season saying we are going to go into a different direction,” Simmons said. “No reason for that, no idea why they canceled it, haven’t had any significant issues we needed to sit down and discuss. So, I have no idea why they decided to yank it from us.”
In an email, National Park Service Superintendent Eola Dance said her team plans to re-announce the club leasing opportunity with plans to reopen Memorial Day Weekend.
“The decision will allow NPS to clarify the vision, scale and scope of opportunities at the Ocean Club that are appropriate in a National Park setting,” Dance said.
Dance said NPS welcomes an updated proposal from Simmons.
Simmons said the closure doesn’t only impact him.
“It’s 200 people we employ in the summer, there is suppliers, vendors, musicians that won’t have places to play,” Simmons said.
An online petition to save the club started circulating Friday afternoon. It has nearly 4,000 signatures online, and Simmons said about 2,000 people have signed in person.
National Park Service leaders said the request for proposals to operate the Ocean Club property will get posted to its website in the coming months.
The announcement comes a few months after a weekend curfew was temporarily implemented for the North Beach area on June 11 because of safety concerns in the area.