By Steve Plunkett
The town has joined a growing effort to save sea walls, docks and moored vessels from boats speeding up and down the Intracoastal Waterway.
Gulf Stream resident Robert Souaid asked Town Manager Greg Dunham to write various agencies seeking a slow-speed zone for the town’s portion of the waterway, which Dunham said the town had previously done.
“A number of times,” Town Commissioner Joan Orthwein interjected as Dunham briefed her and her colleagues March 9.
Dunham said he went to Souaid’s house on Wright Way for a firsthand look at the wave action on his dock.
“Literally while I’m there, a boat came speeding down the Intracoastal and splashed all over us,” he said.
Kristine de Haseth, executive director of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, said Rene Gross, who lives in an unincorporated county pocket directly across the Intracoastal from Souaid, recruited Souaid to the cause and asked the coalition for assistance.
“We helped him get in front of Briny, and Briny is writing a letter. We helped him get in front of St. Andrews; it’s going to write a letter,” said de Haseth, who was elected to the Ocean Ridge Town Commission in March.
De Haseth said officials of the state’s Boating and Waterways Section, part of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “haven’t been very receptive in the past” to speed limits on the Intracoastal south of Woolbright Road, “but this gentleman is trying as much as he can to at least include the municipalities, include the major clubs to have some letter.”
She said Briny Breezes has had to replace most of its sea wall and all its docks. “It’s an ongoing maintenance issue,” she said.
The FWC held a public workshop in March in Fort Walton Beach to consider expanding a “boating safety zone” in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway 415 feet to protect users of a county boat ramp.
It held another workshop in Apalachicola on a proposal to shorten a safety zone north of a bridge by 1,200 feet in an area “with no public fuel docks, boat ramps and boating launching and landing facilities along the shorelines.” The FWC proposal also would extend that safety area 300 feet south of the bridge to protect it.