I write in response to the Oct. 20 letter to the editor by Daryl Dobson recommending "improvements" along 30A. This person seems quite knowledgeable with the particulars of the TDC, as well as referring to a 1996 county plan, and I have to wonder who or what has prompted taking up this issue at this particular time.
Given the number of infringements suggested, the person sounds very much like an advocate of the euphemistic "sustainable development," aka Agenda 21, whereby all property rights are considered anathema and must be abolished. Many of the elements suggested are akin.
Lest we forget, once federal funds are involved, local autonomy is lost.
This person mentions "all the other beaches" and "hundreds of other oceanfront areas in the United States" as having successfully achieved his/her suggestions, yet not even one beach nor oceanfront community is specified.
Being a beach lover, I have been to most of the beaches along the East Coast from Cape Cod down to the Keys and many of the beaches along the California coast. Any boardwalks are primarily in metropolitan areas and ALL are landward of exceptionally wide beaches; notable boardwalks include Venice, "muscle” beach, and Huntington beaches in California and Atlantic City. Asbury Park and Point Pleasant at the Jersey shore are amuck with all kinds of sideshows and clap trap.
I sincerely doubt that that is what anyone really desires here, resident or tourist.
Further, if this person has had much interaction with the tourists frequenting the 30A communities, he/she would know that those who choose to come here do so for the quiet ambience, privacy and, especially, the absence of a continual parade of strangers transgressing in the vicinity. Parents with young children can allow them to play freely at the beach edge day and evening without worrying about who may be lurking or passing through from 20 miles up the road. Minus reassurance, those families may begin to look elsewhere. South Walton is the last bastion of such assured serenity
Significant as well is Dobson's downplaying of the ongoing cost of boardwalk refurbishment. We may only have a direct hit hurricane once every 10 years, but we annually have a multitude of nearby or lesser category hurricanes and tropical storms which, due to huge tidal surges, decimate the beaches and wash away whatever is in the path of the surge.
A beach boardwalk would inevitably end up a dangerous mess of boards and hardware both on the beach edge and washed out to sea and need to be refurbished or fully replaced each year. Such would coincide with the peak tourist season. Of even more importance, it would impede the natural process of beach replenishment.
As to the widening of 30A, besides the enormous cost of doing so, where would the fire hydrants, which must be accessible, go? Where would the utility poles, water meters, mailboxes or garbage pick-up bins go? A better suggestion would be regrading the bike path where needed, perhaps widening it just enough to accommodate single file racers, a minority of bikers, and maintaining it more regularly by keeping it free of debris.
Motorized golf carts do not belong on a pedestrian path. They are more appropriate on side streets in their home base neighborhood — or on the golf course.
Lastly, it is foolish to so cavalierly dismiss the impact on the Coastal Dune Lakes. 30A was built decades ago when traffic was sparse and the lakes were not rimmed with residences. Reconstruction over them would be a major undertaking, which could very easily harm the lakes themselves and would likely be responsible for great losses in revenue throughout the process.
South Walton is still a unique paradise. Let us leave it that way.