Reinventing the wheel: Becnel, homeowners disagree on Ferris wheel

ferris wheel
Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, August 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM.

When it comes to the proposed Ferris wheel for The Village of Baytowne Wharf, it "should have been a less-than-minor development," says Sandestin owner Tom Becnel.

It's been almost a year since The Log first reported about the wheel, and yet the one-time Coney Island attraction is still in storage, disassembled, on Becnel's Sandestin Resort property.

"I wanted to return Sandestin to a family resort," Becnel said of his vision. "The apple needed polishing."

"Early on, I bought the carousel sort of as a billboard that change was coming," he added. "The Ferris wheel was supposed to be just another attraction to provide entertainment."

Instead, the approximately 60-foot Big Eli wheel has become a pile of paperwork that Becnel cannot seem to find a way out of.

"The county feels like they can change the rules as they go," he said. "Each time we go to a meeting they add new items of requirements. We're faced with trying to hit a moving target. The simple principle is law — the first property owner has the same legal rights as the last property owner. We've got these 'not-in-my-backyard' folks who cannot understand that."

But homeowners say they are just protecting their rights — and views — from a "skyline dominating issue."

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