LETTER: More questions than answers with proposed pier
An open letter to Commissioner Meadows:
The idea of building a commercial fishing pier in Grayton Beach State Park saddens me. It shows a lack of appreciation for our beautiful park… the last place we can see any semblance of the precious sand dunes we used to have in Walton County.
Having stated my bias for leaving the park in its present state to preserve at least some memory of the dunes, let me ask a few more practical questions. I was not able to attend the meeting May 7, but from the document released at the meeting, I could glean little in-depth information.
So, I would like to know:
What is the reason for building this fishing pier?
What does the benefit/cost analysis of building a pier show?
What criteria were used to choose this project over any others?
Was there a survey done among the residents/visitors to the area indicating a fishing pier is a high priority for Grayton Beach State park?
Where will the revenue from the fees paid to use the pier be budgeted/spent?
What does the environmental impact statement show?
How will the integrity of Western Lake be maintained?
How will the people who use the park and the beach at Grayton access be affected by the possibility of sharks being attracted to the bait being used at the pier?
How will the vehicular traffic necessary for the building and then, the use, of the pier impact the park?
Who will pay for reconstruction of the pier if a hurricane damages it?
How does a commercial pier in a state park fit into the idea of preservation and conservation, which Walton County claims to respect?
These are just a few of the questions that immediately come to mind. Once again, it seems that Walton County has allowed a project to go forward with little due diligence being done throughout the process. I just don’t understand how this continues to happen.
A few things puzzle me:
We do not have the funding to four-lane Highway 331 without a tax increase to the citizens;
We have closed the Coastal Library on Saturdays so that working people have no access to the library, because there is no funding;
South Walton High School does not have enough textbooks or current ones, for the students; the Media Center lacks basic materials; schools must fundraise for basic supplies.
We cannot afford to pay off duty cops to manage traffic snarls that back up for hours on Saturday mornings during the “season”;
Our infrastructure, roads, bike path; evacuation route suffer from neglect from lack of funding;
Parking at the beach accesses is suffering from too many vehicles;
We have no public transportation system; cancer patients who need to get to hospitals or doctor’s offices must depend upon “the kindness of strangers” because there is no affordable public transportation; those tourists who would happily park their vehicle and take public transportation, do not have that choice;
The senior center, while doing remarkable work, is small, crowded, and underfunded, so that our citizens in their later years are basically forgotten; we have families with children who do not have enough food or any health care; we have neighborhoods that flood on a regular basis because of poor planning and design; and
We have no long range plan for development or management of our county;
And yet, we are going to build a fishing pier in one of the most pristine state parks in the entire country.
I know that you are doing what you can to look into and work on some of these issues. I appreciate that.
Yet, it seems that the BCC continues to react to issues on a case by case rather than having an overall vision; or even a plan for each of the areas that need work. Given all the things that need attention, I fail to see the importance of building a fishing pier; surely, there are other projects more important to the overall health of our people and our land.
We need some leadership and some attention to the big picture; both from the BCC and the county employees; and, we need more involvement from the residents of Walton County.
Glenda Wood is a Santa Rosa Beach resident.