May 1, 2007
The Marine Advisory Committee met on the above date with the following members present: Vice Chairman Jeff Marker and members Rick Harris and Matt Hewatt. Also
present were the County Administrator (Hunter Walker), Public Works Director (Avis Whitfield), County Engineer (Roger Blaylock), and Marine Extension Agent (Christina
Verlinde). Vice Chairman Marker called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.
Harris moved approval of the minutes from the April 3, 2007 meeting; Hewatt seconded, and the vote carried unanimously. (3-0)
Marker introduced the new member representing District 4, Matt Hewatt.
Waterway Access Funding Alternatives
Marker said the Marine Advisory Committee has a list of possible options for alternative funding for public waterway access land purchases. He asked committee members to
review the alternative funding list provided and bring back additional suggestions for funding at the next meeting. There was discussion of using boat registration fees for
waterway access purchases.
Harris discussed Shoreline Park in Gulf Breeze and their ramp use fees. He said the County may want to require boaters using County boat ramps to pay a user fee to raise
Ken Riggs asked the specifics of the boat ramp user fee. Marker said the committee is only discussing possible ways of increasing funding right now and is not sure if a boat
ramp user fee will ever be implemented. There was discussion on who will be required to pay boat ramp user fees ifimplemented.
Simpson River Pier Improvements
Billy Fowler said he opposes closing the Simpson River Pier to boat trailers. He said he would like a boat ramp added and the pier extended. Fowler thanked the Marine
Advisory Committee for the work they do. He said he felt boat ramp fees are a good idea; however, he would like one fee to coverthe use ofall County boat ramps.
Marker said Northwest Florida Water Management controls the Simpson River Pier area. He said Steve Brown with Northwest Florida Water Management informed him that the
Simpson River Pier area was never intended to be a boat ramp, and Northwest Florida Water Management does not want it to be used as a boat ramp. Marker said Northwest
Florida Water Management is going to be putting up barricades at the Simpson River Pier. He said the County mayneed to contact Northwest Florida Water Management to
see if they want the Countyto put up signs prohibiting boat trailer parking. Whitfield said he will contact Northwest Florida Water Management about signs for the Simpson River
Pier area. Marker said Browntold himhe will discuss possible expansion of the Simpson River Pier with Northwest Florida Water Management ifa need for expansioncan be
There was discussion on what verbiage will be on possible signs for the Simpson River Pier area. Marker said Northwest Florida Water Management discussed with him what
they want the area used for and what their plans for the area are.
Dickerson City - Marker asked if the Dickerson City boat ramp is fixed and usable. Whitfield said it is in good shape. He said there is not a lot of parking.
Oyster Pile in Bagdad - Marker said he heard there is a problem with swimmers not getting out of the way of boaters at the Oyster Pile Boat Ramp in Bagdad. Whitfield said
he is not aware of any problems there. He said a sign can be placed stating “no swimming in ramp area.” Harris said a sign definitely needs to be put up at the Bagdad boat ramp.
Garcon Point - Harris asked about a dock possibly being put up at the Garcon Point ramp. Whitfield said a dock was requested for Garcon Point in 2004, but due to hurricanes the project was never started. He said a Budget Modification transferring money from boater registration funds to Public Works is needed for this project to go forward. Whitfield said the dock will cost about $2,500.00. He said he believes the permit for this project that was obtained in 2004 is still good.
Harris moved for boater registration funds to be transferred to the Public Works Department to pay for the building of a dock at the Garcon Point ramp; Hewatt seconded, and the vote carried unanimously. (3-0)
Archie Glover – Whitfield said the road paving has been completed at Archie Glover Park. He said there are still problems with Interstate 10 Bridge contractors parking in areas designated for boaters. Whitfield said he has sent numerous emails and made several calls to the project manager about this problem.
Tony Blanton submitted pictures ofbridge crew boats tied off on both sides of the dock at Archie Glover Park Boat Launch. He said these pictures are of a typical day at the boat
launch area. Blanton said bridge crew boats are being left tied to the dock for long periods of time blocking recreational boaters from using the boat ramp. Harris said this
problem needs to be addressed with the project superintendent. He said he felt the bridge crews canpark their boats on the sand beach if theyare going to be docked for any length of time. Blanton said bridge contractors parking in the recreational boaters reserved parking area is a big problem also.
Riggs described multiple situations when there was no room for him to use the Archie Glover Park Boat Ramp to put his boat in the water or take it out of the water due to bridge crew boats blocking the boat ramp. He said this is frustrating, and he hopes a solution can be found.
Fowler said he was informed that the west ramp at Archie Glover Park has been damaged by the interstate bridge crew. He asked if the County can limit the bridge crew to use the west ramp and leave the east ramp for recreational boaters. Whitfield said the agreement with the project manager is for crews to only use the west ramp. He said this is not what is happening, and said he is unsure of how to enforce the agreement. Fowler asked if the agreement for the bridge crew to onlyuse the west boat ramp is in the contract. Whitfield
said he is not sure if that stipulation is in the contract. Fowler asked why the Sheriff cannot monitor the parking at Archie Glover Boat Rampand issue tickets for violations. Whitfield said he will speak with the County Attorney to see what can be done.
Marker said he has received several emails complaining about the Archie Glover Park Boat Ramp. He said he knows the bridge is important; however, he felt a meeting with
commissioners, bridge contractors, and State representatives might be necessary to solve this problem.
Marquis Basin – Blanton said there are cars without boat trailers taking up all the parking spaces at Marquis Basin. He said boat registration fees pay for the launch area, and
boaters cannot even use the launch. Blanton said he felt 99% of the parking at Marquis Basin should be designated for boat trailer parking only, and this concept needs to be
enforced. Whitfield said there are signs up at Marquis Basin restricting parking; however, enforcement is a problem. He said he will talk to the Sheriff about this problem to see
what can be done. Blanton said he is in favor of ramp fees in Santa Rosa County if it will help improve boating ramp areas.
Floridatown Park – Riggs asked if there are funds to dredge the Floridatown Park area to allow for boater use. Blaylock said dredging channels to open water bodies are not
possible due to environmental regulations. He discussed water depth issues at boat ramp sites and said the County has been looking for deeper shores for boat launch areas.
Marker asked if port-a-lets have been placed at boat ramps. Whitfield said there are port- a-lets at Keyser Landing, Webb Landing, Sandy Landing, Williams Lake, Woodlawn
Beach, Oyster Pile Ramp, East River Boat Ramp, and Simpson River Pier. He said he felt Oriole Beach and Marquis Basin are two places that have significant usage and need port-a-lets. Whitfield discussed the costs associated with port-a-lets coming out of the parks and recreation fund and said budget cuts might affect this amenity. There was discussion of using port-a-lets onlyon a seasonal basis. Walker said if port-a-lets are important, boat registration fees might be a possible funding source. Marker said he felt port-a-lets need to be in place from mid-April to mid-October.
Harris moved for port-a-lets to be placed at Oriole Beach, Marquis Basin, and Black Creek Landing and funded by boater registration funds; Hewatt seconded, and the vote carried unanimously. (3-0)
There was discussion on when port-a-lets need to be in place at boat ramps and where funds should come from.
Oyster Reef Restoration
Marker said the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has been placing inshore shallow reefs in area waters. He said oyster shell is really cheap, and he wants Santa Rosa County to piggyback with the DEP to put more shell in the water. Marker said he felt more shell in the water will help with the oyster population and make for cleaner water;
this will result in better fishing. He said a barge can be contracted for use at a reasonable price to move the shell where needed. Marker asked the Marine Advisory Committee to
consider this idea and identify sites that will benefit from this project.
Harris said he would like the Marine Advisory Committee to request the Board of County Commissioners make a statement or proclamation supporting the Reef Fish Restoration
Association. He discussed the Association’s idea of closing a five square mile area in the Gulf for 10 years to proactively build reefs creating habitat for fisheries closer to area
shores. Harris discussed what the Reef Fish Restoration Association does, and its importance in Santa Rosa County. He said Santa Rosa County needs to be proactive with reef restoration.
The next scheduled meeting of the Marine Advisory Committee will be on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 at 5:00 p.m.
There being no further business to come before the committee at this time, the meeting adjourned at 5:55p.m.