‘Not in my backyard’ folks upset about Promenade discussion

December 27, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse


In another classic case of “don’t kill the messenger,” our Boca Beacon Facebook page went a little nuts last week regarding our article about the orange rocks on The Promenade at 3rd Street beach. Let me preface this by saying, I was not the one who created this famous venue. I wasn’t even alive in the 1920s, when the indenture was filed to make The Promenade a public walkway.
My “crime” was in calling to people’s attention that a handful of people who live on the beach between 1st Street and 4th Street have been doing what they can to block the historic path. The rocks that the homeowner on the north side of the 3rd Street beach access put up – on each corner of their property that borders The Promenade, by the way – weren’t just some overgrown bushes. They were a very obvious slap in the face to an island tradition.
I would have been more than happy to meet with the property owners and hear them out. In fact, one of them contacted me via Facebook Messenger and seemed quite nice. She wouldn’t speak with me about the meat of the matter, though, just about how disappointed she was that I stirred up a hornet’s nest and made them feel bad.
Those of you who know me well know that’s the last thing I’m trying to do. I hate calling people out, even when they’re doing wrong. If I can settle something outside the headlines of the newspaper, I’m all for it, and I’ve done that numerous times.
It’s not the story I’m chasing, it’s the attempt to make things right.
I understand that someone who hasn’t lived out here for too long might not know about the history of The Promenade, and maybe their real estate agent didn’t mention it to them when they purchased their beachfront homes. But a few of the people who want to take away The Promenade are playing dirty, and lying about who is in that fight, and what side they are on … and they’ve also been around long enough to know better.
For years I’ve gotten calls from people who walked the path every day, wanting me to do a story about how the bushes and plants were blocking parts of the walkway. Like the trusting soul I am, I would make phone calls and leave messages for the homeowners, kindly advising them to let their landscapers know it was time to trim those bushes back. Now it has come to light there was no mistake made, no miscommunication at all. It was intentional.
From what I understand, the reason behind the callous attempt to throw out history is the same argument many who live on the beach have: Shut the gate at the bridge and keep “those people” out. I believe if a Stonehenge-type structure could be placed across the road at the toll booth, some people would be very enthusiastic.
I know it is very annoying to have loud, littering people on golf carts that are basically parked in your yard, or to look out your back windows and see someone walking. Anyone who lives, or has lived, on the beach knows the issues that go along with that pleasure. The unwritten rule of the island among good people has always been this: Bad people come, litter and leave: good people stay, and clean it up. Sometimes you also have to put up with your friends’ and neighbors’ over-exhuberant family members who visit, and sometimes you have to put up with those dreaded “renters” and daytrippers.
There are many people who have come and gone from the homes on the beach. The ones who stay are the ones who love our island in good times and bad, in times of blessed peace and in times of inconvenience.
Can you hire a fancy attorney who might be able to overrule a decision made by the courts more than 90 years ago? Sure. But why? Why callously toss away one of the few traditions this island has left?
Marcy Shortuse is the editor of the Boca Beacon. She can be reached at mshortuse@bocabeacon.com