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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010 7 years ago

Trespassing rampant at Longbeach

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A lack of beach at Longbeach condominium, 7075 Gulf of Mexico Drive, combined with the closure of the North Shore Road beach access has created a problem for the condo’s residents: frequent trespassing.

Longbeach Association President Bob Appel and several unit owners, who spoke Monday to The Longboat Observer, say beachgoers now walk on the condominium’s seawall, which acts as a pseudo walkway for people trying to walk along the beach at high tide.

Trespassers have also damaged Longbeach vegetation by using the property as a short cut to the beach, residents said.

No-trespassing signs and a fenced-off beach access have not deterred a steady stream of residents and tourists from walking on the property, Longbeach residents said.

“Everyone walking north on the beach wants to keep going all the way to Beer Can Island, using our seawall near the Coquina building to keep walking,” said Longbeach resident Tom Churchill.

Longbeach unit owners put up six no-trespassing signs on their property.

“There seems to be no solution,” said Churchill, who notes that Florida law prohibits the use of fencing along the coastline. “People will find a way to get on our property regardless of signs.”

Appel said that people not only use the seawall as a bridge to reach other portions of the beach, but also fish on it.

And Longbeach resident Wayne Kimmel said beachgoers walk next to first-floor condominium windows, frightening the residents inside.

“They have no regard for property owners,” said Kimmel, who said the trespassers are gone before police arrive.

Commissioner Gene Jaleski, who owns a Longbeach condominium, isn’t sure if the town has done enough to prevent what he believes is a serious liability problem for Longbeach.

“The town has done quite a bit, but people still scale our seawall and walk through our grounds on a daily basis,” Jaleski said. “It’s a big problem, with no fix in sight.”

Public Works Director Juan Florensa said there’s nothing more the town can do to fix the problem.

“We fenced off the beach access, put signs everywhere, explaining the beach is closed, and placed a sign telling people to go to the Broadway beach access,” Florensa said. “It’s difficult to control people who don’t respect private property.”

Until sand behind Longbeach is restored, most likely when the town renourishes the beach in 2012, Kimmel says he will continue to see about 50 to 100 people walking on the condominium property per day on the weekends.

“It’s a huge concern and a liability issue for all of us who live here,” Kimmel said.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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