John's Pass Village may get ‘wet zone’ status

City officials are proposing that most of John’s Pass Village officially be made a wet zone, where people can carry their alcoholic drinks outside.

MADEIRA BEACH — “We’re just going ahead and acknowledging what’s happening,” said Community Development Director Linda Portal, in proposing that most of John’s Pass Village officially be made a wet zone, where people can carry their alcoholic drinks outside.

Mayor John Hendricks said during the Dec. 1 City Commission workshop, “That’s probably a great idea because everyone’s already doing it now.”

With a “wet zone” declaration, if people leave the business where they are and carry their alcoholic beverage, that’s fine. They can be on the public right of way, Portal said.

Portal showed a map of John’s Pass Village with the streets marked where carrying around alcohol would be legal. It included pretty much everywhere except Pelican Lane, which is next to a residential area, and Gulf Boulevard.

“We don’t want them partying back into the residential streets,” Portal said. And Gulf Boulevard would be excluded because of the risks of encounters between pedestrians and heavy vehicular traffic.

Asked if the Sheriff’s Office would have any problem with the designation, Portal said, “They know it’s going to happen anyway, and they’d rather not have to arrest people for doing things they’re doing anyway.”

Hendricks said he did not see a problem with people walking down the boardwalk with a beer or glass of wine. “Public intoxication is still against the law, and we want to keep it family oriented,” he said.

Portal said she would develop a wet zone ordinance for the commission to approve. What’s happening now is illegal, Portal said, so “this would change that.”

There was no opposition from the commission members to the wet zone declaration for John’s Pass Village, and there was no public comment on the issue.

Parks and Rec has new Friends

A new volunteer group, Friends of Madeira Beach Parks and Recreation, has been formed as a nonprofit organization to help out with staffing and fundraising for community projects and events.

Recreation Director Jay Hatch said the new group has had several meetings and identified the main areas they want to address:

• Enlarging the Bell Tower area in John’s Pass Village, and making it fully functional with the addition of a permanent main stage.

“We want to make the Bell Tower more like a gathering place in the middle of John’s Pass,” Hatch said.

• Making the dog park at City Hall easier to maintain and more resilient. Ideas include putting in shade and artificial turf rather than grass.

• The group wants new entryway signs similar to the column signs at Archibald Park.

“They want signs that build an identity for Madeira Beach, so you really know you’re in town,” said Hatch.

• Funding the “Trash Pirates” is another main goal for the Friends group. They want to raise money to help pay for buckets and other tools they use to pick the trash up. The plan is to give them the resources they need to clean up the beach on a consistent basis.

• For the Fire Department, the Friends want to raise money to help offset the costs of special equipment needs. Clover, the firehouse dog, would also be a focus for funding support.

The intent is to add new projects as the need arises, while some are completed and phased out and others are ongoing. Hatch said he has already seen great support from businesses and individuals for recent events such as the trick-or-treating in John’s Pass Village, and he is optimistic about the success of the Friends group.

“When we add special events to the fold in the recreation department, it is a squeeze on our staffing. So having a group of motivated residents and individuals to help out is very, very helpful,” Hatch said.