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Mother asks Hernando commission to ban T-backs

Lois Mormando thinks some people show too much flesh when they visit Pine Island's beach. So she wants county commissioners to consider following Clearwater's example with a ban on thong bathing suits.

"I just feel people shouldn't expose any of their private parts," said Mormando, a 36-year-old Spring Hill homemaker.

She wrote a letter to commissioners complaining that during a February visit to Alfred McKethan Park on Pine Island, she saw a young woman with her husband and son on the beach.

The woman bent over to pick up shells and exposed to the gathered crowd much of her posterior, Mormando said.

A frequent beach visitor, especially during the summer, Mormando said this might have been an isolated incident, but she has asked commissioners to ban such swimwear in case it was not.

If the board does nothing about the situation, she said, Mormando might quit taking her two sons, 7 and 11, and 4-year-old daughter to Pine Island.

"I'm a real beach lover. I like to read books while the kids play in the water," she said. "But as a Christian, high-moraled mother, I would not purposefully take my children where they could be exposed to that sort of thing. If I did that, I'd be setting a poor example."

Community Services Director Pat Fagan said he has heard only two complaints, including Mormando's, in the past two years about scanty beach attire at Pine Island. "It has not been a major issue," he said.

However, Fagan knew the issue had been raised in Pasco and Pinellas counties and Clearwater Beach recently banned T-back bathing suits. Fagan recommended that Mormando take her concerns to the County Commission.

June Ester, commission chairwoman, said the county should not regulate what people wear at the beach.

"I'm not particularly in favor of women wearing T-backs standing on street corners selling hot dogs, but I really haven't heard people complaining about T-backs at the beach," Ester said. "It's a public beach. I would expect when you go to a public beach there are more offensive things to see than a T-back, especially a pretty young lady in one."

As far as Mormando's argument that her children should not be subjected to such exposure, Ester countered that they might see more troubling sights on television.

Mormando, who has lived in Spring Hill nearly two years, also complained in her letter about out-of-county visitors at Pine Island.

"It takes a half-hour to drive there and it's very disappointing to get there and be turned away at the gate and see all those Pasco and Citrus and Canada license plates," Mormando said.

She proposed a $10 annual pass for residents, while requiring non-residents to spend at least $5 per visit on parking.

No way, Ester said. That issue is something the county has dealt with before, and the legal opinion has been against such measures.

"You cannot discriminate, because the water belongs to the people of the state of Florida," Ester said. The county would be required to charge a uniform rate for all park visitors to be fair, she said.

Mormando should leave earlier, or later, for the beach on days that it might be crowded, Ester said. If the park is full, Mormando could always drive a few miles south to Leisure Beach in Pasco County.