Before the big announcement by Dawn Moliterno, county commissioners and residents were going head to head over proposed changes to the beach ordinance.
“At the last tourist season we had difficulty in getting people to follow the rules on the beach” said Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers.
Those difficulties prompted the commission to clear up any confusion by combining sections of the ordinance and suggesting new ones including a permit allowing tourists to bring their pets to the beach. However some residents say this is a bad idea.
“I have six grandchildren who are between six months and six years of age and I don’t want them putting their face in the sand and coming back up with poop on it” said Walton County resident Sharon Logue-Higgins.
“After having heard from a number of people I got emails from and listening to the citizens I have changed my mind and I really feel like we need to take that out and just have for people who live here to have dogs on the beach” said Commission Vice Chair Sara Commander.
Another issue was how to enforce ordinances already on the books.
“We have no monitoring and no way to enforce this. When we have one person who’s patrolling twenty six miles, I mean it’s a joke” said Logue-Higgins.
“So if you’re going to do it I think we need to look at enforcement before we finalize this thing and I think who’s going to enforce it, how they’re going to enforce it and is the enforcement going to work” said Walton County resident Mary Nielson.
Commissioners agree having the ability to enforce any new changes has to be a priority before anything can be adopted.
“We need to higher more code enforcement officers. TDC needs more, Walton County needs more. If we’re going to enforce then we need to have the people to do it” said Commander.
The commission will take all of Tuesday’s comments into consideration before reconvening to vote on the beach ordinance changes. Other portions of the beach ordinance under consideration are an increase in fines, the capacity of beach storage and beach vendor responsibilities. The next commission meeting is a week from Tuesday.