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Bittersweet Victory for Bonaire Beach

October 11 2007 |
by Surfrider Foundation


On Tuesday, October 2, under a looming deadline imposed by Congressman Tim Mahoney, the Martin County Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of a new inter-local agreement hastily amended in the final hours by the Town of Jupiter Island. The agreement was so late in coming, in fact, that it didn't even make it on Tuesday's agenda and the vote had to be scheduled for the very end of the day.

ON THE UP SIDE: Thanks to the efforts of the Surfrider Foundation and concerned Hobe Sound residents, the "No Trespassing" signs have been permanently removed from Bon Air Beach, the walking path has been cleared, and public beach access has been granted "in perpetuity." Of course, You'll have to hoof it or ride a bike a mile to enjoy Bon Air Beach, but at least you won't get arrested.

This may seem like an insignificant victory, but getting any kind of concession from the power brokers of Jupiter Island is a HUGE accomplishment. Perhaps for the first time ever, the foundation of the Jupiter Island Town Hall was shaken, just a little.

And thanks to YOUR petition with over 1,000 signatures, Congressman Mahoney has promised to amend his bill to allow for reasonable public access to the property for customary recreation use of the beach. This is our only insurance policy to protect public access to Bon Air Beach in case the inter-local agreement takes a dirt nap.

ON THE DOWN SIDE: The proposed parking plan is totally lame. The town of Jupiter Island has agreed to allow the the public to utilize 54 parking spots on weekends and holidays at the Jupiter Island Town Hall, but with a loooong list of restrictions, including no parking for bicyclists. (Just how are we supposed to get to Bon Air Beach?) The most disturbing part of this agreement is that there is a built in escape clause for Jupiter Island to back out of the deal with six months notice if they can cut a deal with the Feds to transfer their 54 parking spots to the Wildlife Refuge. While under this deal, the first 54 visitors to the refuge will get to park at no charge, it will negate any gain in parking spots on the island.

Martin County also tossed in a plan drafted in 2001 to expand the parking at Hobe Sound Public Beach by 20 to 30 spaces; however, there is currently no funding available, and according to Commissioner Weberman, the work is not scheduled to begin until 2013. Congressman DiTerlizzi, who negotiated the deal, has promised to come up with a source of funding within two years (but where will he be in two years to see that it is carried out?)

Ironically, while three of the Martin County Commissioners repeatedly stated that their biggest concern was to create new parking on Jupiter Island, they signed off on a deal that fails to ensure any gain in parking spots.

So, what has Jupiter Island given to Martin County to compensate for denying public parking at Bon Air Beach... a very slippery handshake. It's pretty obvious that the citizens of Martin County are getting the rough end of the pineapple on this deal.

HUGE THANKS to everyone that attended our public forums, spoke up at the commission meetings, wrote letters, collected signatures and and lent moral support to help Save Bon Air Beach for the public.

BIG UPS in particular to: Val Martin, Guy Hill, Joe Klosek, Nancy Odoardi, Juan Ayala, Doug Macrae, Greg Gardner, Janet Church, Drew Baker, Russ Gilbert, James Jolly, Dave Bernardini, Tom Fucigna, Mark Hill, Jordan and Tara Schwartz.

PROPS TO Martin County Commissioners Weberman and Valiere who had the good sense not to support a bad deal.
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