Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement was the plea heard 'round the courtroom at Tuesday's BCC meeting.
"We just can't seem to get enforcement in this county," said Santa Rosa Ridge resident Mary Nielson in regards to the to-be-approved Waterways and Beach Activities Ordinance.
After three public workshops, revisions, inclusions and deletions in the existing beach activities ordinance, Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers brought what he thought might be the final draft before commissioners for their approval Tuesday. After again hearing from the public, however, the ordinance will ultimately be pushed back to allow for further revisions.
The ordinance, Demers earlier told The Sun, was a measure to compile existing beach activity laws, while clarifying them and making them more enforceable.
Those gathered at the Tuesday meeting asked, "How?"
"How it works in practicality, in the real world, is not necessarily something we'll know," said Clay Adkinson, who was sitting in for County Attorney Toni Craig, who was ill.
The enforcement buzz word mainly landed on a new measure which would allow visitors to purchase permits to bring a dog to the beach.
The response from most residents was not positive.
Beach-front resident Sharon O'Keegan said, "It's a grave concern for those who live on the beach."
The grandmother of six says when her grandkids visit her, "I don't want them to put their face in the sand and come up with poop on it."
Her concern with animal waste was mirrored in the other comments.
Two-year resident Marion Victor said he was watching as a jogger and a dog passed his window the other day. The dog relieved itself on the beach, and its owner covered it with sand and kept jogging.
The problem is that "they stop, leave what they want," said Victor.
He fears the addition of more pets on the beach will cause the area to lose its appeal to outsiders.
"This area is known for a couple of reasons, white beaches, clean water, no crime. I'd like to see this preserved," he said. Imagine if your child picks up a "handful of something that's more than sand ...”
Most felt the problem with the ordinance was that it was a set of rules with a lack of a step-by-step enforcement plan.
"Let's go back to the drawing board, and let's look at enforcement as far as dogs go," said Nielson.
Demers and the commissioners listened to the commentary, and now the ball lies in the commissioners' court.
"The board will have to remove or approve," said Demers.
The measure is slated to again come before the five county representatives after revisions Jan. 22 at 8 a.m. at the BCC meeting in DeFuniak Springs.
Bob Hudson, executive director of the Walton County Taxpayers Association, best summed up the dissent in the crowd with a word to the wise: "Don't pass ordinances that the county is not willing to put the money up to enforce."