■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
In a last attempt to keep the Boca Grande Pass Cam dream alive, Gasparilla Outfitters and Gasparilla Vacations have donated the camera to the Barrier Island Parks Society, with the hope they will be able to secure grant funding to get it back up and operational.
According to Capt. Sandy Melvin, the progenitor of the camera program, the ball is now in the court of BIPS to make sure funding is obtained to bring it back up online … and that isn’t cheap.
Melvin said it costs about $7,000 a year in fees to keep the camera online, and that doesn’t count equipment maintenance.
The camera was taken offline in the last few months after an anonymous person complained to the BIPS board about private business logos being displayed on a camera that broadcasts from a state park. At that time, only one logo was being displayed on the broadcast, but others were slated to be placed there as well.
Prior to that the camera had been operating for several years, first under the umbrella of the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce, then Gasparilla Outfitters and Gasparilla Vacations, with cooperation from the state park service and BIPS. Many people watched the camera to see the sunset, check conditions in the Pass or to possibly catch a glimpse of someone catching a silver king.
“Somebody complained about sponsorship of the camera, and unbeknownst to them (BIPS), it violated a state park regulation,” Melvin said. “Now that we have donated it to BIPS, the ball is in their court to find the funding. We’re moving on.”
BIPS Executive Director Sharon McKenzie said, “Barrier Island Parks Society would like to thank Gasparilla Outfitters and Gasparilla Vacations for their generous donation of the Boca Beach cam. It costs close to $7,000 annually to run the camera that showcased the Boca Grande Pass. BIPS will be looking for funding to help support its operation through sponsorships and grants in order to get it up and running again.”
If you are interested in becoming a Beach Cam sponsor, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.