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Relief is on the way for beachgoers

Those who prefer the south end of Honeymoon Island's south beach can soon forget the walk to the bathhouse on the north end. Toilets should be flushing and outside showers will be running in the south-end bathhouse sometime in February.

That will be a welcome relief for some Honeymoon Island beachgoers who have been upset that the bathhouse has been unusable for the past two years.

"So many people use this beach, we definitely need the facility," said Stella Tinturin, 59, who comes to the beach about three times a week and likes the south end. "Many times I go to the car and there's nowhere to rinse my feet."

About two years ago, two of four bathhouses were moved from Honeymoon Island's north beach to the south beach because heavy storms had eroded the sand on the north and pushed some of it to the south beach, said Park Manager Perry Smith. Rocks on north beach were exposed and people began using the south beach, Smith said.

There was enough money from the state to move the bathhouses and rehook utilities in the bathhouse on the north end. But the south end bathhouse wasn't reconnected, Smith said.

Toni McCoy, budget administrator for the Department of Environmental Protection, said many state park projects were put on hold between 1991 and 1993 because of the recession.

Smith said people occasionally complain about the bathhouse that isn't working, but most folks understand there wasn't enough money to do the work.

"There are a few people who are unhappy that it's not open," said Jerry Moreland, a park ranger. "They don't understand why the state moved it and why it's not open. But most are happy you've got the three (bathhouses)."

Dolores Peto, a beach regular who sat under the shade on an umbrella on the north end on a recent afternoon, said she didn't understand what the fuss was about.

"We've got a beautiful bathhouse here," she said, referring to the operating bathhouse behind her. "What's to complain?"

Larry Cliett, contracts manager for the Bureau of Design and Construction, which is a part of the Florida Parks Service, said the agency learned this summer it would get money to fix the bathhouse.

Thorp Construction in Clearwater has been hired to do the work for about $71,000, Cliett said.

Utilities will be rehooked to the bathhouse. Also, a ramp for the disabled and a boardwalk will be added, Cliett said.

Now, there are six portable bathrooms on the beach, Smith said. Once the bathhouse is functional, they will go.

Said Tinturin of the portable bathrooms, "I think (they're) kind of tacky."