Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State tells Caddy's owner most of beach is public property

TREASURE ISLAND — In what may be the most definitive move in a yearslong dispute over who controls the beach in front of bar and restaurant Caddy's on the Beach, a state agency has asked owners to remove signs and other impediments to public access.

But after receiving a letter from the state's Department of Environmental Protection last week asserting the beach is "land for the benefit and use of the public," Caddy's owner Tony Amico said he'll sooner see the state in court than comply, insisting the beach is legally and rightfully his.

"I'm not planning on turning my property over to the state," he said. "If the DEP wants to challenge my titles and rights to the property, they need to address it in a court of law, just like anyone else."

Caddy's has laid claim to a stretch of beach, where there have been reports of restaurant workers preventing people from using foul language, carrying coolers or wandering over from nearby festivities.

According to the Florida Constitution, the public-private dividing line is defined by the average high water mark over a certain period, known as the mean high water mark. Most of the beach next to Caddy's is below the mean high water mark, according to the DEP.

But Amico has long refused to give up his rights to any part of the beach, from the back steps of his restaurant to the water, claiming he has documented property rights to the entire area.

The issue came to a head last summer, when a nearby group of partygoers, almost all black people, were physically blocked from entering the beach near the restaurant's boundary.

Amico said he and several bouncers told the people the beach was closed because police had asked him to help shut the area down. Treasure Island police Chief Tim Casey later said no police officer requested help clearing the beach.

This letter is the first direct order the restaurant has received from a state agency to relinquish its claim to the sandy shore.

The notice was also sent to Mayor Robert Minning of Treasure Island, who met with Amico last week to discuss its explicit instruction that Caddy's "remove any signs that are prohibiting or regulating the public's use of this portion of the beach."

Amico told the mayor he had "no intention" of removing the signs on what he believes to be his property, City Manager Reid Silverboard said in an email to the City Commission.

Minning responded by urging Amico to settle the matter with the state, while leaving the city out of it, Silverboard said. It has long been the city's position that they are "not judge and jury" and should stay out of the dispute.

This reluctance to act is a key facet of the problem, which has been ongoing since 2009, said City Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents the Sunset Beach area where Caddy's is located.

"The state has come out and set a very clear boundary, showing that the beach is public — this is what everyone has always thought, except for Amico," Bildz said. "But this do-nothing commission refuses to do anything about it. Enough is enough."

That is exactly the sentiment of several of Amico's neighbors, who have taken up the cause through the Sunset Beach Civic Association, which pushed the state to act.

"It is my hope that in working with you, we can ensure the public can enjoy the beach while respecting your rights to your property," the letter reads.

Amico told Minning he would seek legal action against the state within the month.

Marissa Lang can be reached at or (727) 893-8804.

State tells Caddy's owner most of beach is public property 06/08/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. What you need to know for Tuesday, June 27


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman square off tonight in a debate. [Times]
  4. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  5. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.