I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Staff is Moving Forward with Plans to #OpenOurBeach

The comfortable status quo is ending, the beach access that taxpayers purchased 5 years ago will be opened--that ball got rolling in earnest last night.

Dozens of speakers excoriated us for letting that property just sit idle for all these years, chained up preventing citizen access.

Meanwhile, condo owners and other nearby locals continue to use this property as their own private beach.  They even advertise the fact that they have their own private boardwalk to "The beautiful Gulf of Mexico"  see the picture below, from their marketing materials available online.

The Condominium across the street from our 300' beachfront property advertises their "private boardwalk" to the Gulf of Mexico--where they currently utilize taxpayer purchased property as their own "private beach"--while you and I are locked out of this beach.  Is this fair?
Beach access is becoming more and more precious in Florida, and this parcel that was acquired back in 2014 should have been opened years ago. Additionally, the mouse habitat that is also an important component of what this property is to be used for should also be protected.  We have not done this, either.  Shame on us for that.  Currently, there is no signage on the dunes warning pedestrians to stay out of the property to protect the habitat.  Instead, there are footprints all over that property and litter strewn about.  It's as if every facet of what we should have been doing with this property under the grant we received to purchase it has been ignored purposely.

That is ending.

Because now that the board has expressed its collective displeasure over this parcel not being opened for public access, as the board voted to do 5 years ago--staff has now been firmly directed to bring two plans to the next meeting to describe what it will take to get this access open.

The feckless attempts at deflections and protestations that this somehow does not align with the Perdido Key Master Plan all fell on deaf ears last night.  Intelligent, unbiased people realize very quickly this is not an "either or" scenario.  We can and should seek to purchase additional gulf-front access to the east near the core--which is directly in alignment with the goals of the PKMP.

But opening this particular parcel (that we already paid for and own) is the right thing to do, and it does not go against the Master Plan--in fact Public Beach Access is Encouraged in the PKMP!   Moreover, the zoning of this parcel HDR-PK allows for beach access as a conditional use once the Board of Adjustment weighs-in.  So very soon that process will begin as well.

Meanwhile, the comfortable status quo is ending, we are now working toward opening this parcel.

The irony is thick:  Condo owners are using our beach here as their private beach, attempting to keep the public out.  Meanwhile, a little ways down the road at our tiny 60' Beach access #1--both sides of that public beach have no trespassing signs going all the way to the water.  Sheriff's deputies guard the beaches on either side, keeping the citizens out of the Condo Owners' "private beaches"
The Indefensible Position:  Condo Owners want to enjoy their "private beaches" and our publicly purchased beaches while also keeping the public off of their "private beaches"----and our public beaches!!!  What?!?

It's ridiculous.  Yes we need to open our 300' Gulf front property now, which will double our free beach access on Perdido Key.

This is what staff is now working to do.  No more excuses, no more explanations, no more stonewalling.

We will #OpenOur Beach !


Anonymous said...

The discussion mentioned the property's intended use, under the PKMP, as “passive use”, and was further explained as a beach access area accessible by foot traffic and bikes, via the proposed bike route. If increases in public parking were to be provided within a reasonable distance to the property, then to me, this form of intended use could reasonably be considered as a viable compromise. However, the mention of increases in public parking for beach access, in the PKMP (pg. 69), indicate a parking garage at the town center. This is approximately five miles from this property. Ok?, that might be a stretch for some, who want to enjoy this public access area by transporting their bikes, Fitbits, and or “mobility devices” to PK via automobile. Conversely, this “passive” use would be entirely convenient and readily accessible to the Key’s residents. Good for them, but isn’t the goal to increase public beach access/ use for the mainlanders?
How much “koolade” are we (the rest of the tax payers) supposed to drink regarding this? Please let us know; grape flavored please.

Anonymous said...

Secure that 1.6 M grant PRONTO!! No staff to apply for that!! Should have been done right away.

Anonymous said...

Doug is on the comments in Facebook WEAR and saying Last night was a DEBATE about buying more property. Was that what was on the agenda or is he lieing?

Anonymous said...

Notice the PNJ story? twinkle in eye, man crush covered it.

What ever happened to a County Public Information Office release of info...Underhill has been trying to message social media and the media (such as it is) in the area for years). He must have learned that in war..censor the message, propaganda..

Even the Red Shirt Theme

""""During the November 8, 1898 election, Red Shirts enforced their previous activities by riding around the voting precincts on their horses, with rifles and shotguns ready, to deter all ..."

It's more than a simple hypnotist's trick uttering "Master Master" over and over..

You should have censured him when you could..filed an ethic complaint..

get rid of the jerk.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As a tax payer and a resident. I salute this action Tax payers have been denied for years access to a beach that is rightfully ours. Now you all need to concentrate on the next attempt against tax payers. And that is the new idea to convert Perdido Key Drive into a Country Road.
I feel that this action will harm the efficiency of the County but also will and could become dangerous for all tax payers, in case of a natural disaster.
If this road becomes a Country road, and Fema cannot completely fix the damages that occur then I as a tax payer will pay with my taxes any money that the County will have to spend in order to fix the damage and my taxes could be affected by that action.
Please, consider this action.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

Keep this going please, great job!

Anonymous said...

transfer the taking to an inland property

Anonymous said...

If you run into roadblocks with this, look into transferring the taking designation for Beach mouse property to an inland property and lift the restriction from the Beachfront. Look to the 23 acres the county owns on River Road that it looks like *someone is using like a private Motocross training ground. Open that also. I smell a rat from Team Rodent.

Anonymous said...

The Bull Dog and her bich friends want to keep this their private beach.. BDBF Beach..There's already a dog park on river road ... Open this access.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Looks like the commissioner is working to keep the 300 feet of Gulf Front for himself his family and a few favored ones. He may be using it to get votes in the reelection. He should be investigated at the county level and the state and not be trusted in a position of public trust. Thank you for pushing this through.