TREASURE ISLAND — Sunset Beach residents complained loudly at Tuesday night's City Commission meeting, demanding the city "do something" to control drinking and obnoxious behavior of beachgoers.
City police estimated that more than 3,000 people crowded onto the beach, just north of Caddy's restaurant Saturday to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Many brought coolers filled with beer.
Some even brought kegs and drank beer through hoses and funnels.
"We had police out there concentrating on making sure the crowds stayed orderly. It was a relatively peaceful crowd, it's just there were some people doing things that were objectionable," City Manager Reid Silverboard said.
Residents complained that intoxicated beachgoers were rude and left piles of trash when they left.
Some said they saw people urinating on the beach and engaging in sex acts.
Other residents said they were afraid to take their families, and particularly their children, to the beach because of the vulgarity and drunken behavior of other beach visitors.
"Sunset Beach on the Fourth of July was nothing but a party of public intoxication and public vulgarity and it should be an embarrassment to the city of Treasure Island," said Kim Driscoll, a Sunset Beach resident.
Dan Beauchesne, treasurer for the St. Petersburg Lions Club on Sunset Beach, strongly urged the commission to take steps to control the beach crowds.
"In the past few months, we have noticed public intoxication, public nudity, public urination, mass littering, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, near drowning, vulgar language towards members and guests, destruction of state protected sea oats, and trespassing," Beauchesne said.
He said the situation discourages club members from bringing their families, and that several events had to be canceled because of lack of participation.
"Sunset Beach used to be such a quaint, nice community, even when there were three restaurants here. Now the drinking is just unbelievable," said resident Andrew Becker.
"We are begging you to help us with this problem," another said.
Caddy's owner Tony Amico agreed with the complaining residents, even though his beachfront bar and restaurant frequently has been a target of their wrath in the past.
"I feel for you and I apologize, but I don't know what to do to help the situation," Amico said, adding that beach visitors should "show more respect" for other people and the beach environment.
After listening to the overflow crowd of angry residents, the commission said it would hold a special workshop to further discuss what might be done to better control behaviors on the beach.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg, it's past the simmer, its getting to a steady boil," said Commissioner Alan Bildz, who represents Sunset Beach.
Bildz predicted residents will bring up the issue of beach behavior "at every meeting" until the city finds a solution.
Mayor Bob Minning said the commission "has been reasonably diligent" in the past in trying to address parking and other issues raised by Sunset Beach residents.
Both Commissioners Ed Gayton Jr. and Phil Collins said they would not oppose banning kegs on the beach.
The commission asked residents who complained at Tuesday's meeting to get together and come up with suggestions for solutions they think would resolve the problems. No date for the workshop was set.