By Thom Smith
Humans have swum naked in Florida waters for millennia, but as the state’s 1,350 miles of coastline have become more congested, pressure has grown to “suit up.” Only one beach — Haulover in Miami — is officially “clothing optional.”
That could change if a Palm Beach County citizens group persuades the County Commission that such a beach would be good for business.
In a May 16 letter to the commission, the Palm Beach County Freedom Initiative presented its proposal that, for starters, suggests a small northern portion of Gulfstream Park, just south of Briny Breezes.
“There is no reason our county needs to send our dollars south,” initiative spokesman Karl Dickey of Boynton Beach wrote. He also cited Blind Creek Beach near Fort Pierce, which isn’t legally designated but does have government approval. Not only would local users stay home, he suggested, but a nude beach would attract tourists.
Blind Creek’s shoreline is unblemished by high-rises, luxury homes or clam stands, whereas Gulfstream’s 7 acres are surrounded by small apartments, multistory condos, single-family homes and a mobile home park.
Briny Breezes officials aren’t enthused with the idea.
“I don’t think it’s going to fly,” said Alderman Jim McCormick. “You’ve got families with children right over there next to the park. They don’t want it. Whose brilliant idea was this anyway?”
Alderman Chick Behringer says a nude beach is a poor suggestion.
“Based on surrounding areas, I think it’s going to draw a lot of the wrong people — a lot of gawkers,” he said.
Dickey’s group is open to alternatives. For decades, a stretch known as Air Force Beach in North Palm Beach was the go-to nude beach. When Walt Disney was looking at possible sites for a theme park, he swam there — sans apparel — with its former owner, John D. MacArthur, for whom the now state park is named.
Dan Moffett contributed to this story.