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Residents protest swim zone
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TREASURE ISLAND – A group of residents from Sunset Chateau condominiums came to the city commission’s workshop, which followed the commission meeting June 2, asking the commission to reconsider new swim zone regulations.

The residents claimed it was not only a privilege taken away without consultation, but the new swim zone regulations are putting people in danger.

Ron Barcena, president of the condominium’s association, appeared before the board with a very organized, reasoned and professional detailed list of grievances over the swim zone regulations.

Barcena noted that both his fellow residents and renters of the condominiums have been discriminated against due to the new swim zone, which was implemented in part due to the boating traffic at Caddy’s on the Beach.

Previously, residents and renters at the Sunset Chateau were able to anchor their boats at the shore. Barcena claims this was taken away due to no fault of his fellow residents.

Barcena also noted that recently, a boater was moored at the new distance limit of 150 yards. A swimmer who was trying to reach the boat couldn’t make it due to the distance and nearly drowned. The boater entered the restricted area to pick up the swimmer and possibly saved his life, but was ticketed by a marine patrol.

Keeping the swim zone at its current length is inviting a drowning, Barcena noted.

Commissioner Alan Bildz was initially against any change due to safety concerns, saying he was in favor of “leaving it as it is,” but when the commission heard Barcena’s story about the near-drowning the commission seemed quite open-minded to amending the swim zone.

“We are here for compromise,” Barcena said. “We have not been dealt with fairly compared to Caddy’s. Our privileges were taken away.”

Barcena went on to say his fellow residents would be open-minded to a corral of sorts that wouldn’t even be the length of the condo complex. (Currently) 300 feet is unreasonable.

Bildz, after hearing Barcena’s pleas changed his mind and stated if the condo association would purchase the buoys, he would support a reduction of the swim zone to 100 feet.

Commissioner Ed Gayton claimed the city was out of its jurisdiction of regulating how waterfront residents cannot have access to moor their boats on their own property and provided copies of a recent court decision as proof, though City Attorney Maura Kiefer could not confirm immediately that it was accurate.

While the board agreed that a compromise or a resolution to the issue should be attempted, the condo association will work with City Manager Reid Silverboard to put specifics of a potential corral, or shortening of the swim zone, on paper.

The issue was tabled for further discussion at a future workshop, likely June 16.
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