TREASURE ISLAND – Within a few weeks, surfers will be able to check out swells and surf conditions at Sunset Beach without driving to the beach.
Treasure Island City commissioners voted unanimously March 4 to pass a resolution allowing the Suncoast Surf Shop to install a webcam on top of the Sunset Beach Pavilion, 8000 West Gulf Blvd. The cam will be mounted on the roof of the building, aimed toward the gulf to give viewers an instantaneous view of the surf conditions.
Suncoast Surf Shop is partnering with the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and Surf Guru. Shots from the webcam will be streamed on www.surfguru.com, which currently provides the same service for numerous beaches on the east coast of Florida.
The three partners will absorb the cost of the equipment and installation. Suncoast Surf Shop will pay the city $35 per month for use of the pavilion.
During a recent discussion on the issue, city leaders expressed a concern over privacy for nearby homeowners but were assured by Joanne “JoJo” Braddock of Suncoast Surf Shop that the cameras would be programmed only toward the surf.
There also was concern that perhaps beachgoers would be visibly identifiable as they walk along the shore, but Braddock reassured that would not be the case.
Commissioner Carol Coward wondered if the cams were actually necessary.
“One of my friends stopped by who lives in Sunset Beach and their feeling was it’s not necessary,” said Coward. “And they said there are two or three other areas with the same information.”
Braddock quickly corrected Coward.
“There is no other cam. There is no other place to get that definitive information,” said Braddock. “The thing about surf is there can be swell at Sunset Beach and nothing on the other side of it. There could be a swell at Sand Key and nothing on the side. It’s really not consistent because we don’t have true ocean swell here. What we have is generally associated with the tides and the wind. We can have beautiful waves for about an hour or an hour and a half. So to say you can get that information elsewhere is actually incorrect.”
Commissioner Alan Bildz said he would like to see a review of the webcam agreement in about six months.
“When this first came up, I thought it was a great idea but boy did I get an earful,” said Bildz. “People think this will increase traffic and the number of surfers, who aren’t always the nicest people. So if this passes, I would like to see it reviewed in three months or six months.”
Treasure Island resident Marie Barba spoke highly of the webcams and their benefit to surfers.
“I come from a surfing community in California,” Barba said. “I was a member of Surfrider Foundation and all the people that surf think these webcams are great.
I think it’s a good thing to have. I just think it’s great.”
Commissioner Tim Ramsberger, who is also a surfer, said the webcams could be beneficial in decreasing traffic to the area.
“They tell me it could actually cut down on traffic on those days it’s functional because you’ve got people that travel here at all times and if they can cam and see that it’s flat (they won’t need to physically travel to Sunset Beach),” Ramsberger said.
In other action, commissioners:
• Passed a resolution to apply for grants through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to repair two public boat docks at 123rd Avenue and 84th Avenue. The city received an estimate from Island Marine Construction to repair the 123rd Avenue dock for $16,790 and the 84th Avenue dock for $15,550.
• Approved an additional $48,493 to EC Driver-URS to revise the work authorization to complete engineering, bidder prequalification and construction, engineering and inspection for causeway bridge painting and concrete repair.
• Removed Fred Stanley from the Planning and Zoning Board and replaced him with Timothy Butler. Stanley was removed due to absenteeism.