Brenda Sarper has lived in
There are only about a couple of dozen houses in the small subdivision of mostly lots.
Tanglewood Street runs around its perimeter, and Sandstone is the subdivision's westernmost street, which borders Topsail Hill Preserve.
Sarper said she was very unhappy to find out by chance that her subdivision was being looked at as an access point for a public beach access for the county.
"This is an untouched end of the preserve and the access would be an unmanned, unmonitored access that anyone could use at any time of the day or night. It's unthinkable that the TDC would plan this without asking us. We all live quiet lives in here," said Sarper.
Sarper has an advocate in environmental activist Celeste Cobena, who says she has always been a defender of public lands here since 1992 and holds a master's degree in ecology.
Cobena said the culprit rests with the residents of the new gated community of Cypress Dunes, a neighboring community adjoining and located slightly west of
"Everyone who has owned the Cypress Dunes property has wanted their own beach access," said Cobena. "But when they went to the Division of Parks and were told they could not have a public beach access paid for with county money because they are a gated community and that would give them private access to public lands, they opted for access through
"Residents of Cypress Dunes could use the public access at Topsail, where there is parking, bathrooms, and a tran," she said.
Cobena believes Cypress Dunes wants the access to raise their property values.
Cypress Dunes resident Janice Gaultney admits that she wants a beach walkover for her subdivision, but denies that Beachview residents did not know what was in the works.
"We contacted state environmental protection first, then parks and planning, then County Commissioner Cindy Meadows, who was very interested and thought this would be a good idea," said Gaultney.
Gaultney said she was told on April 2 that the state biologist had chosen a path that would be least impactful and it would stretch over an established trail at Topsail.
Gaultney also said neighborhood meetings were held, she sent out packets of information to all impacted neighborhoods, and she has even gone door to door.
"We don't have as many accesses on the west end," she said.
Gaultney says when a neighborhood meeting was held at Celebration Hall, most attendees were overwhelmingly for the access.
"At one point we received an ovation and people were there from every neighborhood, and 15-17 people have signed the petitions for it," she said.
Gaultney said there are 29 homes there in Beachview and a walkover would service 500-plus homes.
However, Gaultney said the walkover would be a neighborhood walkover and there is no plan for a parking lot.
"It would be bike and walk ins only," she said, which she noted is not unusual as only seven beach walkovers have parking, and the other 51 don't.
Gaultney believes a boardwalk would help protect and preserve Topsail instead of hurt it, and keep cars off the road.
"It would be a valuable contribution to Topsail ... a good thing," she said.
Walton County Tourist Development Council head Jim Bagby said the Board of County Commissioners and strategic planning told the TDC to look at public beach accesses. Bagby said he has six to present on the 30th, and he will ask if anyone knows of any more.
"We are seeking public input," he said.
There are currently 62 accesses.
Other locations being looked at include Bullard Avenue east of Stallworth that has a trail already; the Palms of Dune Allen; Headland Avenue in Seagrove; Montigo in Seagrove; and Walton Dunes at Eastern/Deer Lakes.
Cobena said her interest is to help preserve and keep state lands pure.
"All private land is being developed. That's why we're having flooding problems," she said.
The public workshop will be July 30 at 6 p.m.