By Bob Steib
Edited by Carolyn Leaman
In the early spring of 1990, our Beautification Committee with many others planned the installation of our boardwalk across the dunes. We had been using a section of the beach across from the office building approximately where the large Australian Pine tree use to be. T his was an open area to the beach and quite wide. The danger in walking over under the pine tree was the small cones all over the sand. They were very prickly and you were apt to catch one on the bottom of your foot. It was a large swath cut out of the dune and continued to widen with the years of use. The government was frowning on open beaches and lecturing "boardwalks". The other good reason was that the land did not belong to us. We did not know it until much later. That is another story.
We owned one thousand feet of beach starting from our property line south at Bryn Mawr. The line was measured on both sides of the beach to mark off the area where the walkway was to be built. The beach was lower than the roadway and took some planning for an entrance way. We wanted the boardwalk to be accessible to the handicapped. In order to do this, we had to have a ramp from the road of macadam and another ramp up to the floor height of the walkway. This brought us into the "handicapped laws" for access. We called the County and asked what the rise was per inch per foot of the approach. We were told that they would call us back within a day or two. It took three days before we received the call and were told that if we wanted to receive any further information on handicapped laws that we would have to refer them to only one person at the County. In other words, we were one of the first to be concerned about handicapped laws and they did not have the answers. One person was designated to research them and that was whom we would have to contact.
The area from the road to the dune area was owned by the Department of Transportation. That meant that we would have to have special permits from them and the ramp would have to be paved. Connie Raccis was an owner of a unit in the park and had a friend in West Palm Beach who was a contractor. We had to have a contractor pull the permit to build the walkway. He offered to do this for the cost of his time from West Palm Beach to Fort Pierce and back to file the permit. We had to supply a "foreman" or clerk of the works. Once he filed the permit, we were informed that the County had to have a copy of his insurance. More work back and forth and finally it was all filed. Now came the waiting time for many anxious men and bureaucracy at its best in holding up permits.
Red Cunningham was our designated foreman. That was only part of his participation. He decided that in order to raise the money for the walkway, we would sell boards and pilings. --So much for a board and twice as much for a piling. If you purchased one or the other, your name would be engraved on the lumber. If you look at the names over there today, you will see that there are names of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, husbands, wives, dogs, cats, brothers, sisters and more. We were all quite creative. They raised the money for the boardwalk. It took a lot of shoe leather, telephone calls, parties, ingenuity of all kinds. But, they did it!
The permits were endless. You had to have a County permit, a Department of Transportation permit, a Department of Natural Resources permit, a vegetation removal permit, a sea turtle protection plan and no destruction of the beach-dune system. This took a lot of time and effort. Many phone calls were made to agencies and endless questions were .answered. Our plans were filed with the County Engineer and Fire Marshal as well. The last of the permits were the DOT and County. The office of the DOT was in Fort Lauderdale. Two of our men and their wives decided to take the trip to their office and "walk the permits thru" and not come home with out them. We did not think that they could do it, but they did!. Ever say no to Red Cunningham? I don't think so. They came back with the permit. Now for the County. It was being held up in the building department. We went out to try and push it along but it was stuck. We asked them to call us immediately when it came into the Development office and we would pick it up if we had to come out on a bicycle. When we reached home, the message was received that it was there and "don't come out on a bicycle".
We pulled in the yard and the men were waiting to go. This was one of the best and most well planned projects we have ever done. It has been a pleasure to hundreds of owners and visitors over the years. We could not get the walkway widened on the end for wheel chairs and this was one problem we could not solve. After a few years, when Florida caught up with the handicapped laws, we asked for an "ell" off the boardwalk and it was approved.
The celebration was held and the ribbon cut for the opening of the walkway. David Woodhouse cut the ribbon with the help of his mother, Claudia and we had our walkway. What a great day.
There were so many men involved in this project that we can not name them all. It was a spirit of cooperation and determination. An example of what can be done even with all of the road blocks and hindrances. The permit was applied for on February 5th, 1990. The walkway was dedicated on April 4, 1990. We hope you will enjoy seeing some of the construction and more information below.