Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dec. 1 bonfire on the beach gets Treasure Island's blessing

TREASURE ISLAND — Complaints about activities on the city's beaches drew very different responses Tuesday from the City Commission.

In the case of a proposed fund-raising bonfire on Sunset Beach, the commission ignored numerous complaints from nearby residents and gave its approval.

The commission unanimously granted a permit to the Sunset Beach Civic Association to hold a bonfire south of the Beach Pavilion on Dec. 1.

The bonfire had prompted a flood of emails and phone calls from residents of Mansions by the Sea who said the bonfire would endanger their health and safety.

Mansions resident Joe Consolo appeared at the commission meeting to repeat his protest.

"We have some real health problems at the Mansions. Many of our residents have respiratory problems. The smoke isn't going to do them any good at all," he said, suggesting that smoke could blow in through the condominium's laundry vents.

Consolo said the bonfire would "contaminate the beach," and if the fire spread to nearby sand dunes could set fire to the condominium carports.

"We are talking about human life here," he said.

Association president Kristy Anderson said the group has moved the bonfire site away from the Mansions, farther south on the beach.

"We are excited about this," Anderson said. "We think it is going to be a good community event."

Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach and joined in approving the bonfire, warned that it would be "one of the most closely watched events in Treasure Island history; if anything goes wrong."

The commission similarly took unanimous action to resolve complaints from beachgoers tripping into holes dug by drum circle participants. It led to a new ordinance that gives police the authority to arrest anyone who fails to fill in holes they dig in the beach.

"If an officer sees someone digging a hole that could be a hazard, they could instruct the person to fill the hole," City Manager Reid Silverboard said.

He said it would be an offense, subject to arrest, if the hole digger refuses to fill the hole.

City Attorney Maura Kiefer said people are "digging very large trenches" on the beach where they sit and drink during the drum circle.

"These holes present a possible danger to unsuspecting individuals, who may fall in them and get injured. The city has a duty to safeguard the public from possible harm from these holes," Kiefer said in a memo to the commission.

But the ordinance she drafted not only makes failing to fill such holes "unlawful," it prohibits "any activities" on the beach that the city deems "dangerous to the health, safety or welfare" to any person or that would "cause damage" to private or public property.

People who "engage in any activity within the public beach that interferes with the use and enjoyment of the beach and its facilities by other patrons" is specifically prohibited.

What those prohibited activities might be were not defined.

The new ordinance, which was unanimously approved by the commission, must be voted on a second time before it goes into effect.

For more than a decade, a diverse group of people — tourists, spiritualists, families and partiers — have gathered before sunset on Sunday evenings on the beach near 104th Avenue.

It began in 2001, when a college-age modern dance student invited a group of friends to gather on the beach to drum and dance to memorialize the setting sun.

The gathering quickly became a tradition and it now attracts people countywide, as well as from surrounding counties.

They bring a variety of drums, gongs and homemade instruments.

In 2007, when surrounding businesses and residents complained about the noise and trash left on the beach, the city decided to put a curfew on the drum circle.

Under the curfew, activities must stop at 9 p.m. during the winter and 10 p.m. during the summer.

Dec. 1 bonfire on the beach gets Treasure Island's blessing 11/19/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 19, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday


    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general


    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
  3. Iowa group sues United over death of giant rabbit, Simon


    DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

    In this May 8, 2017 file photo, attorney Guy Cook speaks a news conference while looking at a photo of Simon, a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago, in Des Moines, Iowa. A group of Iowa businessmen have filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over the death of Simon. The businessmen filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 26, 2017, more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]
  4. Elderly Brooksville woman dies in Wednesday crash


    BROOKSVILLE — An 87-year-old woman died following a Wednesday morning car crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]