Waterway Security Closures Plan Revised by Tyndall

PANAMA CITY -- Brad Stephens owns Sunjammers Watersports. His livelihood depends on our local waterways.

"If that's their only place to recreate and they're unsure, well are we going to be able to next week, are we not going to be able to go next week? Well that will factor in if they buy a paddle board or a kayak", said Stephens.

In the proposal, officials will be able to close 129 miles of coastline, as much as 500 feet offshore, whenever they deem there is a threat. This includes popular locations like Shell Island and Crooked Island.

Stephanie Somerset is the executive director of Friends of Shell Island,

"Never in our lifetime have we seen so many restrictions on boaters. And from what i hear, boaters are getting to the point where they think it's not worth it anymore," said Somerset.

Tyndall officials were unavailable for comment, but did release a statement saying that they would only close waterways during an immediate threat and would reevaluate the need to keep the water closed every 48 hours.

Officials have included the public in this round of planning. Over one-hundred people were at the last town hall meeting on the subject.

"They are implementing very small fractions of it, but we wish they would take more of our suggestions into consideration, well I'm sure they are considering it, we just wish they would use more of our suggestions," said Stephens.

Stephens would like to see any regulations expire after 5 years. That way the rules can be re-examined down the road.

The next town hall is scheduled for Jan. 30, from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Mexico Beach civic center.