The author of the letter in the Sept. 3 Herald, read by so many, not only misrepresented the facts but also put words in my mouth that I did not speak. I have NOT proposed ever that there should be a toll to get onto Anna Maria Island. It is true there are those who would like it to be considered, but for me, a toll is a non-issue.
There is, however, discussion now in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach about paid and permit-only parking in some areas of the two cities. There has been an exponential increase in the number of people coming to the beach for the day in the last two years.
Many who are actually ticketed, if not most, are from counties other than Manatee.
Unfortunately, a number of these people have little, if any, respect for the area they visit. They steal potted plants, sandals and furniture off residents' porches; they use their outdoor showers and hoses; they leave behind trash (including dirty diapers) and other items on the beach that can cause trouble for nesting turtles; they park with little regard for the damage they do to the stormwater swales; they break fences and steal signs; they even poop and pee on residents' property.
If confronted and asked to leave, they often threaten the property owner using language I will not repeat. This kind of thing used to happen occasionally. Now it is a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence.
People who worked years to be able to purchase property on the island and retire here are feeling like they have to fence in and defend their property. Are we supposed to look the other way and allow this kind of disregard and destruction to continue?
What do you suggest doing to stop this kind of behavior? Law enforcement cannot be everywhere all the time. Signs make no difference.
Some people just don't care and, unfortunately, as it is in most cases, laws are passed because of the few rotten apples who spoil whatever it is for everyone else.
On Monday, I talked with a resident who said, "It was a good weekend. I only saw two people urinating on my lawn and one other in bushes on the pathway to my house."
How would you feel if you were this homeowner? What would you say when you know this has happened before and will happen again?
When all is said and done, those of you who wrote the ugly and threatening emails to me will see that there was never a discussion of a toll to get on the island and that especially those of you from Manatee County are welcome as always to enjoy the island's beauty and beaches.
SueLynn, Mayor, City of Anna Maria