Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Below: is an outgoing letter to the 5 Bay County Commissioners regarding the issue of the BAW locked gates.
Above:  is the reply from Councilman Gainer (click on for larger image)

Other readers might like to send them comments via either email (see them lower down this blog for those) or via snail mail at: 840 W. 11th Street, Panama City, FL 32401.


Just in case you are wondering who is behind BID-A-WEE BEACH PARK, INCORPORATED and don’t know how to look it up, here is the information so you can drop them a line with your comments on what they are doing:

Officer/Director Detail - Name & Address
Title DP
(850) 960-1852, 

Title VPD

Title DT
(850) 249-7613

Title DS

Title DB

Title BD
(850) 234-1007

You can also look at their web site at:

Gainer: County no longer involved in Bid-A-Wee issue
June 28, 2011 07:16:00 PM
PAT KELLY / News Herald Writer

PANAMA CITY BEACH — County Commissioner George Gainer said a recent opinion by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Bid-A-Wee Beach easement ends the county’s involvement with an issue that aroused public opinion and led to four locked gates being torn down and tossed into the Gulf.

Gainer said Tuesday the county only became involved in the controversy to clarify its responsibility for public access arising from a 1998 easement covenant between Bid-A-Wee and the county, an agreement needed so the Corps could conduct a major beach renourishment project.

“Our involvement and our interest was over whether the people have a perpendicular (north-south) easement,” Gainer said. “So we asked the Corps. It was important to know what the Corps said. The county is not interested in interfering with anybody’s property rights.”

An association of Bid-A-Wee homeowners known as Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP) had erected six metal gates between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street in April that blocked access through the dunes to everyone but property owners in the Bid-A-Wee community.

Community members who opposed the gates had asked the county for its opinion about the 1998 document, and Gainer had spoken out about the importance of maintaining public access to the entire beachfront.

Corps assistant district counsel Joseph Givhan Jr. now says the agreement with Bid-A-Wee only concerned granting easement from the shoreline north to the “7-foot contour line” just below the dunes, and the Corps has no interest in the six Bid-A-Wee pathways through the dunes and sea grass south of Front Beach Road.

Gainer and Bob Hughes, the attorney for BAWBP, had been working on a compromise that might have provided public access through at least part of the property, but the compromise now becomes moot with the Corps’ decision.

Hughes has said all along the issue involved the easement and not the gates.  “We have now clarified our easement,” Gainer said. “The Corps of Engineers has made that very clear. We are pretty much out of it now.”

Phil Phlegar, a Bid-A-Wee homeowner who had opposed the gates, said Tuesday that with the Corps’ counsel saying the Bid-A-Wee pathways just south of Front Beach Road do not concern the federal agency, and if the county now doesn’t want to involve itself, “it looks like a dead issue.”

Phlegar said he only became involved because he thought the action of BAWBP to install the gates had gone too far, denying public access and violating both the letter and spirit of the 1998 agreement with the Corps.

Besides the locked gates, BAWBP president Jim Smith has said he also plans to provide “dedicated” golf cart access and parking for his homeowners and improve handicapped access.


Commissioners bow out of Bid-A-Wee controversy

Jun 28, 2011 Posted: 6:52 PM
Reporter:  Amber Southard, Email Address:

Panama City -  County  Commissioners have also decided to bow-out of the Bid-A-Wee beach access gate controversy.

The decision comes after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its opinion, saying the Bid-A-Wee residents have the right to block the accesses.

The Bid-A-Wee homeowners association installed the gates at the six access points in March, saying the general public was causing litter issues and vandalism. Commissioners got involved after former beach Mayor Lee Sullivan produced a 1998 document questioning the legality of the gates, but now county officials say the public has no rights to the accesses.

 "I’m satisfied at this point that we've done what we've suppose to. It's private property and the last thing we want to do is interfere with somebody's private property rights," said county commissioner George Gainer.

Commissioners say the issue is up to the homeowners association and the Bid-A-Wee residents themselves.

Corps rules on Bid-A-Wee gates

June 28, 2011 12:01:00 AM

PANAMA CITY BEACHThe four vandalized and missing Bid-A-Wee Beach gates are back, although not yet locked, and a new opinion from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be the key to keeping them there.

The president of Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP) says the controversial gates, which had been tossed by vandals into the surf and sand, will be locked again as soon as the damage from the hooliganism is repaired, once again blocking public access to Bid-A-Wee Beach.

“All we are trying to do is protect and preserve a portion of the beach that you can actually still see in this concrete canyon of condos,” BAWBP president Jim Smith said Monday. He declined to say if the gates would be locked over the July 4 weekend.

The six locked gates and the right of public access had become an issue because of a 1998 easement agreement that Bid-A-Wee property owners gave to the county for a major beach renourishment project by the Corps.

Part of the agreement states the “property will be subject to a public easement for traditional uses of the sandy beach …” and the county became involved when Bid-A-Wee residents opposed to the gates wanted commissioners to step in and resolve the issue.

In a June 24 opinion requested by assistant county attorney Dan Banks, however, Corps assistant district counsel Joseph Givhan Jr. said the Corps’ position was that “all access points from public right of way (such as Front Beach Road) to the beach project … are not typically included in the acquisition of the beach renourishment portion of the project. …”

BAWBP attorney Bob Hughes reacted positively to the Corps’ email Monday, calling it the key piece needed to settle the public uproar.

“It is clear that the Corps e-mail confirms what the easement’s grantor, the drafter and most people who read it said it states, which is that the beach renourishment easement agreement provides only a lateral east-west easement for the public to use, that portion of the beach seaward of the 7-foot contour line,” Hughes said.

“According to the Corps email, that agreement does not provide public access from Front Beach Road down to that portion of the beach that has the public easement,” he said. “This is true not only for Bid-A-Wee Beach, but all along the 17-mile renourished beach because other owners also signed the same agreement.”

Efforts to reach Commissioner Mike Thomas, whose district includes Bid-A-Wee Beach, and Commissioner George Gainer, who has championed public access to the beach, were unsuccessful Monday and it was unclear what the county’s reaction would be.

Smith had maintained his group had a right to block access across the boardwalks that span the dunes and lead to the sand and water, saying Monday his efforts were not out of step with what is happening elsewhere along the Gulf.

“There are a lot of beaches in Walton County that have gates,” Smith said, “and this situation is not any different.”  But Bid-A-Wee homeowner Robert Cox said Monday he doesn’t think the issue will go away. Cox said he still wants to know why Corps officials seem to agree with blocking public north-south access at Bid-A-Wee Beach, when their own regulations state: “… in order to qualify for federal cost-sharing of Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction renourishment projects, the local beach community must, at a minimum, provide public access to the beach every one-half mile and parking with a one-quarter-mile radius of those access points.”

Cox said the gap between the two nearest public access points east and west of Bid-A-Wee Beach measured about 1½ miles. He said he emailed his concerns to the Corps, but so far had not received an answer.

In addition, Cox said there were many other issues “swirling around” the Bid-A-Wee Beach situation, including whether all property owners in the Bid-A-Wee community and not just BAWBP had a right to voice their opinion, a park dedication of the beach made in 1938 by then-owner Eula Miller, and property taxes on the beach.

An act of vandalism

From the Editorial Page - June 14, 2011 08:00:00 AM
from original article at:

The question of whether residents of Bid-A-Wee Beach can erect locked gates to restrict public access to their property demands a lawful resolution.  It didn’t receive one over the weekend.

Someone tore down four of the six gates late Saturday night; two apparently were tossed into the Gulf of Mexico. Some may see it as a justifiable act of civil disobedience, but it is nothing more than an act of vandalism — one that has inflamed passions that already were overheating.

If it was indeed committed by opponents of the gates, they did their side no favors. If anything, the vandals gave ammunition to the pro-gate crowd. Proponents can now claim: “See, we told you these people don’t respect our property. Without the gates there, they will be allowed to despoil the beach.”

Since the gates first went up in April between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street just south of Front Beach Road, Bid-A-Wee homeowners, county and city residents and lawyers on all sides have been arguing over who has control over the north-south easements through the dunes.

Opponents point to a 1998 agreement with the county that requires public access to the beaches because they received taxpayer-funded sand renourishment. Proponents argue that the agreement does not apply to the boardwalks (built by the Bid-A-Wee homeowners group) and the dunes, which are private property.

Complicating matters is the fact that this isn’t just a dispute between the county and the Bid-A-Wee homeowners group. There are Bid-A-Wee residents who aren’t members of the group but who oppose the gates.

Meanwhile, County Commissioner George Gainer has publicly called for the gates to come down, while his colleague Mike Thomas has taken a wait-and-see approach. All that earned Thomas at the last commission meeting was him being confronted by a group of pro-gate Bid-A-Wee residents demanding that he stand up for their private property rights.

Gainer believes a compromise is possible: Bid-A-Wee would provide a separate public easement but would not remove any of its locked gates. That would have to be approved by the nearly 600 homeowners, a process that could take several weeks. However, that could be faster than pursuing a legal solution — determining exactly what that 1998 easement agreement really means.

The legal ramifications can’t be left hanging, though. The county has an obligation to clarify the 1998 document, not only to resolve this matter but to prevent future misunderstandings and disagreements. Both sides have to know what their rights and responsibilities are.

Meanwhile, Bid-A-Wee homeowners group president Jim Smith has vowed to put the gates back up swiftly. All will be reinforced against theft and augmented with video surveillance.  Even if Bid-A-Wee was wrong to erect the gates in the first place, vandalizing them is not the answer. Everyone needs to cool down and work through proper channels to resolve this.

PCB Police Incident Report

(DOBs, Telephone #'s and SSN's have been removed)
Click on page for larger image or print out:

Posted by Picasa

Police Investigate Bid-A-Wee Gate Removal
Updated: Jun 13, 2011 10:52 PM EDT
By J. Michael Brown - email:

The debate over public access to a private beach has taken a bizarre new turn.  Four of six security gates at Bid-A-Wee beach are gone, but they weren't removed by Bay County officials or the property owners.

Beach police are searching for the person or persons who removed the gates Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  "We don't have any suspects yet and this certainly is not the way to resolve any differences," said Chief Robert Harding.  "There are other avenues to solve these problems without damaging somebody's property."

One avenue could be legal action.  Attorneys for the county and Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc., a group that represents some of the property owners, are reviewing documents to determine whether a beach renourishment project that included the privately-owned beach also guaranteed public access from Front Beach Road.

"I understand both sides," said Mike Thomas, the county commissioner who represents beach constituents.  "But it is private property and a few people mistreated that property and caused these people to [install gates]."

The gates went up in April after members of the homeowners group grew tired of fighting for parking spaces and cleaning up trash.  Warnings and video cameras were installed at each gate, but it's not clear if the cameras were even functional.

"It would be nice if there was some video of somebody down there," said Chief Harding.  "It would be a pretty open and shut case."

Harding said the incident is considered "criminal mischief" and felony charges could result if it results in property damage exceeding $1,000.  Jim Smith, president of Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, said each of the custom-made gates with coded locks costs about twice that amount.

Commissioner Thomas disagrees with the way the gates went up and the way they came down.  "I hope they get caught, I hope they get in trouble for it, it was wrong to do it and this shouldn't happen," he said.

The Bid-A-Wee group issued a press release late Monday, saying it is "extremely upset and angered" that the gates were removed.  "This destruction of the gates was the very type of destructive activity… which caused the landowners to decide it was necessary to install the gates on the walkways in the first place," the group wrote.

The group wrote it will continue to work with county officials to resolve the issue.  "I hope a compromise can come about soon," said Commissioner Thomas.

Video Link is Available:

FYI:  A 2 1/2 minute video news report is available at: there is a lead in commercial of 25 seconds.


Controversial gates that once locked the Bid-A-Wee Beach access points are down

Panama City Beach - It appears someone has removed the controversial gates that once locked the Bid-A-Wee Beach access point.
Posted: Jun 13, 2011
Reporter: News

Email Address:  
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla- The battle over the Bid-A-Wee beach access gates has taken an ugly turn. Apparently someone upset with the restricted access to the beach removed the gates by force this weekend. It's just the latest development in a clash that started back in April.

Four of the six Bid-A-Wee gates that were placed at beach access points in April were torn down sometime Saturday. 3 of them wound up in the Gulf.

"Four gates had been taken off and torn off their mounts," Panama City Beach Police Chief Robert Harding said "I believe that three of those gates have been recovered. Not sure about the fourth. We responded, we've taken a report on it."

Two gates were not vandalized, and despite the warning signs that there is 24 hour video and audio surveillance, police say they haven't seen video of any suspects.  "I'm not aware of any videos, if there are cameras or not, we're not aware of any videos... It'll be tough, so if anyone knows any information somebody give us a call," Harding added.

This is the just the latest chapter in this saga. Since the pass-code enabled gates went up people for and against them have been chiming in on the issue.  Bay County and Panama City Beach officials are working with their attorney's to see what, if anything, they can do about the situation. They're hoping it doesn't get to that point.

"The first thing we're trying to do is stay out of it," Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas said. "It's a private property issue I believe, and alot of it's an issue between homeowners in a subdivision. It's people that aren't satisfied on either side of it and I'm hoping they can work out something. Something with the city and the county. Something we can all live with and not have to wind up in court."

Regardless if the gates are legal Harding and Thomas say tearing down the gates was not the right thing to do.  "It's a sad time when people do tear up stuff like that, I think people's emotions run high," added Thomas.

"This is not the way to solve any differences, to tear up somebody's property, there's other avenues to hash out these differences," Harding said.

Chief Harding said the crimes constitute misdemeanor criminal mischief if the damage is $1,000 or less, felony criminal mischief if it's more than $1,000. If you have any information about the incident call Beach police at 850-233-5010.
The Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. board of directors issued a statement Monday afternoon about the incident.

They said they are extremely upset and angry about the damage done to their gates, and that even though the destruction of the gates will cost them significant monetary damages they plan to replace them.  Read their full statement below.

BAW Press Release

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results."

Neighborhood Association to Rebuild 4 Gates

Bid-A-Wee head vows to stand firm

June 13, 2011
PANAMA CITY BEACH — The president of the Bid-A-Wee neighborhood association vowed Monday to rebuild the four beach access gates torn down by vandals over the weekend.

“Next time it will take more than three minutes to rip them off their hinges,” Jim Smith wrote in an email to the association after the gates were discovered missing Sunday, promising that next time they would be reinforced in a metal frame. “… if the vandals are caught, we will prosecute to the full measure of the law.”

In his email, Smith also railed against those in the Bid-A-Wee community “who continually incite and encourage tearing down the gates” and against “local politician making similar comments attempting to score political points.”

All four of the gates had been recovered by Monday, with the last one discovered about 30 feet out in the Gulf, according to a second email Smith sent Monday. He wrote that he expected all gates to be reinstalled by the weekend. Smith declined to comment when contacted by phone.

A statement released Monday by the board of Smith’s group, Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP), blamed “the sometimes heated public discussions about the possibility of public access existing to the Bid-A-Wee Beach which motivated these persons to engage in this destructive behavior.”

The gates have continued to generate controversy and hot tempers over whether they are proper, or even legal, and have dragged the Bay County Commission into the fray.

A compromise had been in the works between Bay County and BAWBP that would have allowed the gates to stand but would have provided a separate public access point on either the east or west end of that section of Front Beach Road between Nautilus Street and Crane Street.

Since the six gates were installed, they have blocked public access, and even some members of BAWBP have opposed them. Both the county and BAWBP have been trying to reach a compromise that would keep the issue out of the court system.

In its statement, the BAWBP board said it was “continuing to be engaged with the county in attempting to resolve the issues which have surfaced as concerns of certain member of the County Commission.”

Membership in the BAWBP represents less than half of the people in the Bid-A-Wee subdivision, which contains 600 lots with 576 property owners.

“I hope it doesn’t jeopardize the negotiations” to provide a separate public access point, said Phil Phlegar, a Bid-A-Wee resident and former BAWBP member who has opposed the gates. “I think it was absolutely the wrong way for the situation to be handled,” he said of the vandalism.

The four damaged gates, valued at about $1,000 each, were found along the shoreline and behind the Casa Loma Hotel. Most of the hinges had been destroyed.
Police Chief Robert Harding said Monday no arrests had been made and nobody had contacted his department with any additional information. The incident was being investigated as criminal mischief.

Harding said he was unaware of any video of the crime, even though BAWBP had posted signs that warn of video cameras.

“I believe the vandalism will continue for a while until this issue settles down,” Smith wrote in his email. “After a period of time, we should be OK.”
Bid A Wee Gates Vandalized
Controversial gates that once locked the Bid-A-Wee Beach access points are down

It appears someone has removed the controversial gates that once locked the Bid-A-Wee Beach access points.
Reporter: News, mail Address:

Panama City Beach - It appears someone has removed the controversial gates that once locked the Bid-A-Wee Beach access points 4 out of the 6 of Bid-A-Wee gates are no longer standing. They appear to have been taken right off the hinges. Bid-A-Wee Beach homeowners locked the beach accesses to their private beach last month, but now some officials say that gated easement is public property. One of the gates was reportedly thrown into the gulf.

A beach restoration agreement does say that after a restoration project, the easement will be subject to a public easement for traditional uses, but the president of the homeowners association Jim Smith says county officials misunderstood the agreement.

Former Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan and county commissioner George Gainer have both announced their feelings on the issue urging Bid-A-Wee citizens to take the gates down.

Last week several Bid-A-Wee citizens attended the Bay County Commission meeting but said nothing until after the meeting when they cornered Commissioner Mike Thomas asking him to defend their rights to Commissioner George Gainer.

It is still un-clear at this time who took the gates down and why.

PCBPD investigating vandalism to Bid-A-Wee gate 

S. BRADY CALHOUN / News Herald Writer

PANAMA CITY BEACH — It’s come to this.

On Saturday night someone tore down four of the gates that block access to the beach in the Bid-A-Wee community, according to a Panama City Beach police report.

Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. President, Jimmy Smith, reported the incident Sunday morning. At the time all of the gates were missing but officials soon found three of the four $1,000 gates.

“Most of the hinges were destroyed during the incident,” the police report states. While an officer was on scene two of the gates were recovered from the shoreline in the area. A third gate was located behind the Casa Loma Hotel. The location of the fourth gate was unclear Sunday night.

Chief Robert Harding said his agency is investigating the incident.  “It’s criminal mischief,” Harding said. “We’ll go as far as we can with it.”  Bid-A-Wee officials declined to talk about the gate crashing incident Sunday night except to say that they would have more to say Monday.

Since the six gates first went up in April between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street just south of Front Beach Road, Bid-A-Wee homeowners, county and city residents and lawyers have been arguing over who has final control over the north-south easements through the dunes.

Members of the Bid-A-Wee community itself, including factions within Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc., have splintered over the issue, Attorneys for the Bay County Commission have been investigating the legality of the gates for a few weeks and seeking a compromise with the Bid-A-Wee gatekeepers. Last week news broke that officers with Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP) met and were planning to mail ballots to their members asking whether they would support a compromise to take down one or more of the six gates and allow beach access for all county residents.

County Commissioner Mike Thomas predicted the issue would wind up in court and that it boiled down to a dispute over “private property.”

“People shouldn’t mess with other people’s property,” Thomas said. When asked whether or not the county should be involved in the dispute Thomas said his answer it would depend on the advice of the county’s attorney.

“I’ve always said I don’t think counties should be suing citizens,” he added.

He also made it clear that he was not in the area when the gates were torn down.  “I have an alibi for where I was when this happened,” Thomas said.


Good finally someone did something I suggested, now get the other 2:
"Bid-A-Wee is not the problem with beach"
Posted 6/7/2011 12:47 AM CDT on
by lexxel


I have a couple solutions to this 'problem', #1)  This requires one sledge hammer, one person, about 5 minutes and some tea bags to leave at the newly opened gate. The theory here is that Bid A Wee has absolutely NO right to block access and opening up the easement is the right/duty of any citizen.

Idea #2)  This requires some heavy chain, a case hardened lock, one person, about five minutes and some tea bags to leave at the newly locked gate. The theory here being that if Bid A Wee wants to limit access to the beach via the public easement then they also should not be able to use said easement.

B. Harris
Bay County Tea Party Activist

Applications now being taken?
"To Protect and Deny"
Applicants must furnish firearm, baton, pepper
spray and provide their own Black shirt.  Ability
to give commands in German is preferred.
There seems to be 2 types of Easements in play here.

Easement 1)  The one most written about on letters to the editor sites is the one signed 13 years ago which sets out the boundaries of the Easement which apply to public usage of the renourished beach area at Bid A Wee.

This Easement stands by itself and modifies (enlarges) the area where the public has ‘rights’ of usage above and beyond the commonly referred to ‘high tide line’

Easement 2)  This is the one which applies to access by the public via the 7 long used routes from Front Beach Road to the public sand.  This is a Public Usage Easement which comes into play as a result of long usage by the public of those pathways which are now gated and blocked for continued public usage.  Such Easements arise out of our English Common Law and can be enforced in the courts should a landowner block access along the routes which have been used for many years by the public.

This latter type of Easement is arguable in Court and it will be up to a judge to determine if the public can continue with their usage of those 7 access routes to the beach.  One of the arguments will be the effort that Bid A Wee has made since the establishment of that subdivision to limit public access to the beach and if simply posting signs here and there proclaiming it was ‘Private’ land would be enough of an effort for them now many years later to try to limit access via gates.  Would the argument that signs were posted over the years be enough to preserve their ‘right’ to now block access via locked gates?

My guess is that it would not be enough but it is enough there to argue, but at $250 an hour for an attorney it will be a costly (and probably losing) fight for the BAW Corporation.
======Contact the County Commissioners:
Board of County Commissioners
310 West 6th Street, Panama City, FL. 32401
Information: (850) 248-8170

The Board of County Commissioners is a five-member governing board elected at-large to represent the citizens of Bay County. The Board defines the role and guides the actions of the organization in ensuring the future of Bay County.
Web Site:  

Contact the Commissioners at:

Mike Nelson, District 1

George Gainer, District 2 (Vice Chairman)

William Dozier, District 3 (Chairman)

Guy M. Tunnell, District 4

Mike Thomas, District 5*

* Bid-A-Wee is located in District 5

PANAMA CITY BEACH — While attorneys frantically scramble for a way out of the controversy swirling over the locked Bid-A-Wee beach gates, there is the sound of steel and threat of legal action in the voice of County Commissioner George Gainer as he vows to get the issue settled, and soon.

 A compromise may be in the works, but Gainer wants it to move along with dispatch. “If we can get this thing settled among ourselves, then maybe we can keep it out of the courts,” Gainer said Wednesday. “But I am determined to pursue this thing until we get it resolved. I intend to move forward as quickly as we can.”

He said officers of Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP) met over the weekend and will mail ballots to their members asking whether they would support a compromise to take down one or more of the six gates and allow beach access for all county residents.

At a County Commission meeting Tuesday, Gainer briefly mentioned the issue, saying the commission would allow BAWBP president Jim Smith time to contact his members.
Photo Above:  Gate #6
Following the meeting, Smith sent an email to his membership that contained the following:
“…our BOD (Board of Directors) was working on the issue which would take two weeks and the membership would be voting on the course of action we take which would take another 45 days or more. We will begin formulating the options and in a couple weeks we will mail them to our membership.”
BAWBP is the neighborhood group that erected the gates and blocked public access, but which Gainer said does not represent all Bid-A-Wee homeowners. “It is my understanding that less than half belong,” he said.
County Commissioner Mike Thomas, whose district includes Bid-A-Wee, said he was also waiting for the outcome of a ballot vote that may determine whether the county is forced to sue the neighborhood group to have the gates removed.

“When they vote on it, then we will decide what we want to do,” Thomas said Wednesday. The subdivision has more than 600 lots with 576 property owners.

Since the gates first went up in April between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street just south of Front Beach Road, Bid-A-Wee homeowners, county and city residents and lawyers on all sides have been arguing over who has final control over the north-south easements through the dunes.

Members of the Bid-A-Wee community itself, including factions within the BAWBP, have splintered over the issue, while Gainer has maintained he was determined to protect the public’s interest.
“If the public has access, we will maintain that access,” he said Wednesday.

Robert Cox, a Bid-A-Wee resident who opposes the gates, said he attended the BAWBP weekend meeting, which he called so “contentious” that a sheriff’s deputy was there to keep order. “There were a lot of emotional statements,” he said.

Cox said the group’s attorney explained that the issue was “in the crosshairs of the public right now,” but that a compromise was available to which the county might agree, such as taking down at least one of the gates, which lead to a little more than 8 acres of sand along 1,600 feet of gulf surf, one of the most attractive stretches of beach in the county.
July 13, 2011

Posted by Picasa

Now that we are "The Best Beach in Florida" you can't get to it!
PCB got first place, the runners-up were:
2nd Daytona Beach
3rd  Destin

The site is at:
Misc Information Obtained Today 5/25:  The attorney for the Bay County Commission has looked into the matter of the 'Gates of Bid O Wee' and has determined that 13 years ago the HOA had granted a Public Easement in return for considerable assistance in erosion control on that 1,600 ft stretch of beach (8.3 acres).

The County Attorney will be providing his opinion to the Commissioners.  We have already seen that the City of PCB's City Attorney opined that Bid O Wee could limit access as the land was 'private property'.

I read the 3 page Beach Restoration Eastment document (found lower down on this blog) and it was entirely clear to me that the County Attorney was correct and that the City Attorney should have paid more attention in law school.

The County hope is that Bid O Wee will now take down the gates of their own accord.

My reading of this is that long term HOA President Jimmy Smith has now invested about $10,000 of Bid O Wee association money in this boondoggle and he isn't going to now admit that he screwed up.  I am sure that the matter will end up in protracted court proceedings.  It is going to be costly for Bid O Wee to proceed in Court as a typical attorney will charge $250 an hour with paralegals billing $95 an hour.  So President Smith is going to be spending a lot more of his homeowners funds to prop up his incorrect initial decision.

I foresee a  "Recall Election" for President Smith, he already has enough enemies in Bid O Wee, this may well make him the Muammar Gaddafi of Bay County.


Bid-A-Wee Homeowners Will Vote on How to Move Forward with Gate Access Dispute

Panama City Beach-
The gates currently lock the beach accesses to their private beach but county officials argue the gated easement is public property and therefore locking the gates is in violation of a beach restoration agreement from more than a decade ago. The agreement states the beach would be left open to the public after the restoration project.

The debate for a private community to lock up their beach access may be headed to court. The Bid-A-Wee Home Owners Association met in their annual meeting Saturday morning, with the most controversial topic being the issue of their recently installed gates.

The gates currently lock the beach accesses to their private beach but county officials argue the gated easement is public property and therefore locking the gates is in violation of a beach restoration agreement from more than a decade ago. The agreement states the beach would be left open to the public after the restoration project.

Our news cameras were not allowed into Saturday's meeting because the HOA is a private organization, but those attending the meeting told Newschannel 7 some residents have suggested making a compromise with the county. The possible deal involves giving up a couple of feet of land as an easement, but not everyone was on-board with the idea.

The Association is planning to hold a neighborhood vote to determine how they will move forward.

"The issue was the easement which the county already claimed it had. That is for the court to decide, but the issue was whether or not to offer six feet on either side of the beach for the county in order to make the county's claim on the entire beach go away" says Bid-A-Wee resident Randy Martin.

Bid-A-Wee Beach HOA President Jim Smith is frustrated with the entire ordeal.
"Politicians don't always do what's right, they do what's popular. Now (we have) almost six-hundred families to vote, we put signs in our yard and make political contributions so our ballot and suit might be in the polls, and we'll excise that right."

The issue will most likely be brought up again at Tuesday's Bay County Commission meeting.


County officials Claim Bid-A-Wee Beach Gates are Illegal

Panama City Beach - A legal battle is taking shape between Bay County and Bid-A-Wee Beach property owners. The county now claims the newly installed gates on bid-a-wees beach accesses are illegal. But the homeowners association is standing it's ground.
May 25, 2011, Reporter: Chad Mira

Panama City Beach - A legal battle is taking shape between Bay County and Bid-A-Wee Beach property owners. The county now claims the newly installed gates on bid-a-wees beach accesses are illegal. But the homeowners association is standing it's ground.

At least one Bay County commissioner has come to the conclusion that the unpopular decision to install beach access gates at Bid-A-Wee Beach, is against the law. Last week, former beach mayor Lee Sullivan presented commissioners with a beach restoration agreement giving the county easements on Bid-A-Wee Beach public property. After examining the document commissioner George Gainer now says the county attorney believes the locked access gates are illegal.

 "People's access and property and their right to go down their access to the beach on the easement that's owned by them, i think overrides any of the other concerns," Gainer said.

"Then they're going to have to include every hotel, motel, restaurant, everyone in this particular approach because every one of them, all the private property owners, signed the same agreement," BAWBP President Jim Smith said.

Gainer said if the homeowners don't take care of these gates themselves, he guarantees a motion will be made at the next commission meeting to take action. That's something we can probably expect because the homeowner association president Jim smith said he has legal documents that say this easement is private, and these gates should remain locked.

Smith says the document grants public easements for traditional uses that would have been allowed prior to the project. Smith says those uses are spelled-out in a lawsuit dating back to the 1950's.

"The undersign does hereby dedicate the following parcel of land for park purposes only to all owners, residents and inhabitants of Bid-A-Wee subdivision...She dedicated that for our part. Not public part, our part," Smith said.

The next county commission meeting is June 7th, where Gainer said a motion could be made to take legal action.


A document has Bay County Commissioners taking a closer look into Bid-A-Wee Beach’s locked gates

May 17, 2011, Reporter: Amber Southard
Email Address:

Panama City Beach - Panama City Beach's former mayor, Lee Sullivan, has come forward with a document he claims makes the gates blocking public access at Bid-A-Wee Beach illegal. Sullivan presented the document to Bay County Commissioners Tuesday, and urged them to fight the issue.

Sullivan is basing his claim on a 1998 document which established an agreement between the county and the Bid-A-Wee Beach homeowners' association president as the beachfront was being renourished. The document says Bid-A-Wee would allow the public access to the beach, in-exchange for the county restoring the beach.

 "The agreement says they would provide a public easement. That's what it says, that's what was signed, and that's what they'll do, or I will raise so much stink that you'll be able to smell it from Southport," said Sullivan.

Sullivan believes the gates Bid-A-Wee has recently built at the public beach accesses violate the 1998 agreement, but Bid-A-Wee's leadership disagrees.
"Anyone can use our beach. Anyone can come onto Bid-a-wee Beach from an east to west manner. They can use it; they can sit down on our beach if they want to. But they can't enter our beach from a north-south direction over our crosswalks and over our private property," said Jim Smith, President of Bid-A-Wee Park Incorporated.

Commissioner Mike Thomas agrees the residents own the property, and wants to keep this out of the courts.

"The property belongs to Bid-A-Wee, and we need to make sure we don't infringe on their rights, too. Counties don't need to be suing their citizens, so hopefully we can work something out that will be beneficial to everybody," said Thomas.

There are six beach accesses now gated off for the private use of about 600 property owners in the community.
Panama City Beach - Panama City Beach's former mayor, Lee Sullivan, has come forward with a document he claims makes the gates blocking public access at Bid-A-Wee Beach illegal.    
Jun 5, 2011


Newspaper Reports on Bid-A-Wee actions

Sullivan takes on county, Bid-A-Wee owners

May 18, 2011 12:01:00 AM
PANAMA CITY — If the county commission won’t protect public beach access, former Panama City Beach mayor and police chief Lee Sullivan said he will.

During Tuesday’s county commission meeting, Sullivan, also a local TV personality, urged the board to take action against Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc., which recently gated six beach access points previously available to the public.

Sullivan was interrupted by a buzzer indicating he had exceeded his public comment period, but expanded on his comments after the meeting by saying if local governments won’t act, he will take the issue to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers has very stringent rules regarding public beach access. To qualify for federal dollars in beach renourishment projects, a public beach access must be provided every half-mile, along with adequate public parking, said Dan Rowe, executive director of the Tourism Development Council. About $19 million of the $22 million, eight-mile beach renourishment project to occur this summer comes from the federal government.

“I’ll go to the Corps of Engineers and I will rain on them until they are up to their neck in water,” said Sullivan, who has also said he plans to run for Panama City Beach City Commission. The Bid-A-Wee question will not affect this summer’s beach renourishment because the proper funding has been secured and the
beach connected with Bid-A-Wee is not scheduled for renourishment, Rowe and Commissioner Mike Thomas said. The project includes five miles on the west end of the beach and three miles on the east end.
If left unaddressed, Thomas said he is concerned the restricted access will affect future beach renourishment projects, but since there is no immediate threat, he urged the commission to act judiciously.

Leaders of the neighborhood association have said the gates are to protect the dunes and wooden crosswalks from destructive beachgoers, but a 1998 easement granted to Bay County says a “property will be subject to a public easement for traditional use of the sandy beach consistent with the uses that would have been allowed prior to the need for the project. …”

When a Bid-A-Wee resident emailed Thomas about the easement earlier this month, Thomas said he brought the matter to the county attorney and it is being reviewed. While some preliminary study has been completed, at Tuesday’s meeting Thomas suggested the problem may resolve itself without government interference. Not all Bid-A-Wee residents are happy with the new gates, as only members of the property association have access codes to all six gates. All other residents only have one, though the taxable value for the private beach is spread among all homeowners.

Allowing private citizens to sort out the disagreement would be preferable to the county getting involved, Thomas said, but the standing for legal action has been granted to the county in the form of the easement, Sullivan contended.

“Public easements are for public use,” Sullivan said. “An agreement is an agreement.”  Sullivan said he is concerned about the effect that bringing the Bid-A-Wee issue to the Corps of Engineers could have on future beach renourishment, but the dangerous precedent established by a private entity restricted public beach access is a greater concern.

The issue recently came up at a Panama City Beach Commission meeting during which city commissioners declined Bid-A-Wee’s invitation to install a drive through gate for emergency vehicles to access the beach.

Misc Info:  Lee Sullivan has stated that he will run for the Ward 2 PCB seat in the 2012 election.  This seat is held by Rick Russell the current Councilman, he also intends to run.

Attorneys Look Into Bid-A-Wee Beach Access

Posted: May 17, 2011 8:01 PM EDT Updated: May 17, 2011 8:01 PM EDT

Controversy continues to swirl around a privately-owned section of Panama City Beach.

Last month, homeowners in the Bid-A-Wee development installed gates to prevent non-residents from accessing the beach through their property.  But some beach residents say the homeowners have no right to restrict public access.  The issue surfaced at Tuesday's meeting of the Bay County Commission.

Lee Sullivan, former Panama City Beach police chief and mayor, told commissioners a 1998 agreement between the county and Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc. guarantees public access.

"The Bid-A-Wee Park has egregiously and arrogantly closed the public easement," said Sullivan.  "I humbly and respectfully ask ya'll to take some action to keep that public easement open for the public."

Sullivan said the Bid-A-Wee property was included in a beach renourishment project after the homeowners group signed an agreement allowing the property to be subject to a public easement.

Only homeowners and emergency personnel have the codes to the new security gates.  Commissioner Mike Thomas said the county is investigating whether limiting access to the beach violates any prior agreement.  "We have an obligation to the people of Bay County to make sure that... these things that have been promised over the years with easements through there [are investigated]", said Thomas.  "We need to find a happy medium in there and make this work."

Commissioner Thomas said attorneys for Bay County and Panama City Beach are looking into the matter to determine whether the renourishment agreement does, in fact, contain a public easement clause.  He said the county will step in to resolve the matter if necessary, but he's hopeful that the homeowners can work out a solution among themselves.


PCB council divided on Bid-A-Wee gates

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The City Council is struggling with how to react to a Bid-A-Wee neighborhood organization’s installation of gates along a popular stretch of beachfront, limiting public access.

The neighborhood group, Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP), has offered to allow the city to install its own gate for emergency vehicles, but some council members are leery of using city funds on private property.

Six gates have been installed at beach access points along the south edge of Front Beach Road between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street, but the Bid-A-Wee group responsible for closing public access also has invited the city to erect its own gate on a “drive-down” access point east of the gates close to Crane Street.

The issue, which could come up at Thursday’s council meeting, has the council divided, Mayor Gayle Oberst said Monday. The Bid-A-Wee neighborhood group claims ownership of the property, where until recently the general public always has had access to the waterfront.

“I don’t think we should be building on private property,” Oberst said, while acknowledging there would be safety concerns if the neighborhood group itself shut off the “drive-down” area. “And I don’t think we should be in the business of closing down easements to the beach.”

The gates only restrict north-south access through the dunes. The public still enjoys east-west access along the water and up to the average high-tide line. Although BAWBP claims title to the property, Oberst said the group doesn’t pay taxes on it.

There seems to be a consensus among public officials that the dunes and wooden crosswalks are private property, but some Bid-A-Wee homeowners are not happy with the gates. Robert Cox of Bid-A-Wee Lane, for example, has written to County Commissioner Mike Thomas, insisting the county has a responsibility to maintain public beach access at the site.

As his source, Cox cited a passage in a 1998 easement agreement between Bid-A-Wee Beach owners and the county from the taxpayer-funded 1998 beach renourishment project:  “… property will be subject to a public easement for traditional use of the sandy beach consistant with the uses that would have been allowed prior to the need for the project. ...”

“They (BAWBP) don’t have a right to restrict public access,” Cox said. Of the six gates, five are controlled by BAWBP members, with only one gate accessible to all Bid-A-Wee homeowners, Cox said.  Thomas said he turned Cox’s email over to the county attorney for an opinion, insisting, “It’s a city issue. I hope that we don’t get into it.” On Monday, county spokeswoman Valerie Lovett said the matter was still under review.

City Council member Rick Russell said his family has used the public access points along Bid-A-Wee Beach for years and was disappointed the gates were installed.  “That beach has been wide open for years and years,” he said.

Like Oberst, Russell said he thought using public funds to build a city-maintained gate on private property, even for emergency vehicles, would “set a bad precedent. I don’t want to open up that can of worms.” Russell said Monday that he had not yet seen this week’s council agenda, but he thought the issue would be discussed Thursday.

Council member Ken Nelson said “conflicting personalities” among Bid-A-Wee homeowners had become involved in the dispute over the gates but that the city should take control of the “drive-down” access point because of safety concerns.

“It benefits the city to have access to the beach,” he said. “It benefits the public.”

Story at:


Bid-A-Wee gates dispute from both sides

Panama City Beach

I am so saddened over the locked gates at Bid-A-Wee Beach. I moved to Panama City Beach in 1994 and consider myself a "local" and love it. I live off Middle Beach Road and have spent more hours on that beautiful beach then I can count. When there is stress or problems, a walk on the beach can make things brighter. I have driven down there to watch many an awesome sunset, each one being different.

I have a 15-year-old grandson, a 12-year-old grandson and a 4-year-old granddaughter. Their first sight of the ocean was from Bid-A-Wee; the first time they felt sand between their toes, it was on Bid-A-Wee. I have photos of the boys covered in the sand with just their heads out and them laughing.

They have built more sand castles then you can count; dug massive trenches. We always filled in the holes, as I used to be with Turtle Watch, and know we need to keep the beach safe for our lady turtles coming up at night.

They know we always pick up any trash we see and dump it in the barrels. All the grandchildren and my son and daughter will be coming this weekend. The first thing out of my grandchildren’s’ mouths is always, "Let’s go to Bid-A-Wee." Sadly I will have to say to them: "We can’t go. We’re locked out."

Panama City Beach

First, I would like to say that I am so disappointed in individuals who are supposed to be adults, acting like children.

Secondly, I would like to think that our respective leaders on the Panama City Beach City Council gathered the facts prior to making misleading statements to the media. I am saddened as to how the media and our respective leaders are making the homeowners in the Bid-A-Wee Beach neighborhood look to the public. If everyone had focused their energy on getting the facts this wouldn’t have resulted in taking up time and space in our local media.

I have not seen any mention of the other "private" beaches to the west of Bid-A-Wee. Do not Reid’s Court and Laguna Beach have posts stating "Private Beach"? Reid’s Court also states, "Private Parking for Reid’s Court and their Guests." Or is it that the City Council just doesn’t like some of the residents of Bid-A-Wee?
For the record, our neighborhood homeowners received a ballot in the mail so that they could vote on a two-phase project. The majority voted for the gates. They also voted to erect a new walkway for the handicapped residents in the neighborhood.

I have watched over the last 17 years how we will never be able to please everyone in our neighborhood. There are more than 560 homes in our neighborhood consisting of those who are and are not homesteaded. In the last several years our neighborhood has see an increase in foreclosures, which has increased vandalism and destruction to private residences and the beach. I couldn’t believe the beach cleanup of 2010 when we were picking up used needles, used condoms, soiled diapers, buried cases of beer and asking our local police to evict the homeless taking up residence in the vegetation area of the dunes.

Lastly, I think that the property appraiser answered the tax issue (let’s put this one to bed). Also, if I’m not mistaken, Florida statues were followed and met for our beach to be recognized as an amenity by the state. I think that takes care of another issue previously mentioned (put this one to bed, too).

So can we get back to finding remedies to much larger issues, such as our young men and women fighting for our country, people who have recently lost their homes due to fire, tornados and flooding, the high Florida unemployment rate and the next PCB Council elections?


Gates now block access to Bid-A-Wee Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH — The owners of land along Bid-A-Wee Beach have installed locked gates for the first time at six access points to the popular beachfront.

They say it was necessary because of the packs of spring breakers being “dumped” by bus loads at the beach, and because other nearby developments have tried to market themselves as property with special Bid-A-Wee Beach access, something that only Bid-A-Wee homeowners have.

During the last three years, the problem with spring breakers has become particularly acute, association president Jim Smith said Monday, as well as the twin problems of litter and random vandalism.
“The intent is not to prevent east-west access” to the sand along the waterfront, “but to limit north-south access over the wooden crosswalks through the dunes,” Smith said.

The homeowners in the Bid-A-Wee subdivision north of Front Beach Road, as well as city and county emergency first-responders, have the access codes to the gates’ punch-key panels.  The homeowners have claimed ownership of the property for decades and even stopped an effort by the county in the 1970s to bulldoze the dunes for development, Smith said. Official title to the property was granted in 2006, he said.

City building and planning director Mel Leonard said city approval was not needed to install the gates because the home association owns the stretch of land from Front Beach Road south to the erosion control line (ECL), which is basically the same as the mean high-water line (MHWL).

The mean high-water line is the average reach of the high tides over a 19-year period. The state claims all land seaward of the MHWL, while private property can be maintained landward of the line.  “We couldn’t find any city jurisdiction,” Leonard said Monday.

Bid-A-Wee homeowners also have discussed expanding the crosswalks to include a parking area for golf carts, which some homeowners use in traveling to the access points. Before the city can review the expansion project, however, Smith first would have to get approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Leonard said.

The subdivision has more than 600 lots with 576 property owners, Smith said. The home association mailed out surveys about the gates to all property owners and about 90 percent responded with an 80 percent approval for installing the gates, he said.

By limiting access to Bid-A-Wee Beach, more beachgoers will be “nudged” to the public beaches at the city and county piers where there is better parking, public bathrooms and shopping opportunities, Smith said.
Smith said that in the two weeks since the gates were installed, the amount of litter on that stretch of beach has decreased dramatically
Copy of the 'BEACH RESTORATION EASEMENT' of 3/12/98 between the Bay County Board of County Commissioners and Bia-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc., as represented by Mr. Jimmy A. Smith, President and Charlotte Collins, Treaurer.

Click on document for larger image or print out:

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Entry denied

Panama City Beach
I have owned a home in Bid-A-Wee since 1993. I am opposed to the gates as are many others in the neighborhood.

It is important to note that the only people who were allowed to vote on the issue were the people who pay the $50 voluntary dues to Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. This was not voted on and approved by 90 percent of the owners, only the ones who pay the voluntary dues. I stopped paying dues because the president of the association, Jim Smith, has abused his authority. He has involved himself in issues claiming to represent the homeowners of Bid-A-Wee. He does not speak for me ever and he does not speak for many others.

I will never pay the $50 dues nor will I be denied access to MY BEACH! Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. is not a homeowners association as defined by Florida law. The dues are not mandatory, they are voluntary.

The county says I am an owner and I have no choice but to pay tax on the property. Therefore I, as well as any others who choose to not pay $50 per year who are owners in Bid-A-Wee are being illegally denied access to our own property.

I will not pay the dues, I will have the code and I will give it to anyone and everyone I choose.

Click on for larger image or print out:

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa
County commissioner says Bid-A-Wee gates must come down

PANAMA CITY BEACHWith the crucial summer tourism season swiftly approaching, Bay County Commissioner George Gainer* said Tuesday that the Bid-A-Wee locked gates must come down or the county will have to force the issue.  (Photo:  George Gainer)

The Bid-A-Wee points-of-entry to the sand and water along Front Beach Road are county easement, Gainer said, and he would support an effort to maintain public access.

Members of a Bid-A-Wee Beach neighborhood group have erected six locked walk-through gates at access points across the dunes and down to the water between Nautilus Street and Albatross Street just south of Front Beach Road, saying the land belongs to them.

The group also invited the city to erect a similar gate at a drive-through port along the same stretch, but the City Council recently declined to spend money on the offer in a 3-2 vote.

Gainer said the county went through the same issue several years ago with hotels and resorts attempting to discourage use of public access points along the beach.

“As far as giving up an easement, we have never done that,” he said. “This would be a first time.” The commissioner said the county so far has tried to stay out of an issue that seemed to be between Panama City Beach government officials and homeowners in the Bid-A-Wee neighborhood, homeowners who were divided themselves about erecting the gates.

The county had been taking a “wait-and-see” attitude, hoping the issue would resolve itself without county involvement, Gainer said.

But the issue was forced on the county when Bid-A-Wee community member Robert Cox wrote to County Commissioner Mike Thomas insisting the county had the responsibility to maintain public beach access at the site, and Thomas turned the matter over to the county attorney.

Cox said Tuesday that he had not heard back from the county, but he thought the group that erected the gates, Bid-A-Wee Beach Park Inc. (BAWBP), is “waiting to see what the county does. I think they (BAWBP) need a little nudge from the (county) attorney.” 

Helping to give the issue more traction, local television talk show host and former Panama City Beach Mayor Lee Sullivan told commissioners at their last meeting he would take the issue to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers if the county continued to delay.

The Corps of Engineers must sign off on beach renourishment efforts, and Sullivan has announced his intention to run in the next election for the City Council seat now held by Rick Russell.

Russell, who voted against city funding for the Bid-A-Wee drive-down gate used for emergency vehicles, said Tuesday he hoped the issue could be resolved without litigation by the city or the county. “It’s my understanding that there are a lot of homeowners in Bid-A-Wee who don’t want the gates,” he said. “I think the gates need to come down. I don’t think we should be blocking any access to the beach.”

Gainer said he was hopeful a compromise could be worked out that would give county residents and visitors access to the beach along a stretch of sand that has become controversial. For instance, perhaps half of the gates could come down as a temporary measure in order to gauge the impact on public access, Gainer said.

In any event, the commissioner said the matter needed to be settled before the height of the June-July summer tourist season, which is fast approaching.

See article at:
*   George B. Gainer,Vice Chairman District 2,


Smith's Various Injury Claims
Here are a few minor items I came across.  If you read them keep a look out for the various versions of what Smith said he had in the way of injury from the altrecation. 

I believe I found 3 different claims he made about his hand/wrist.  Clearly he can't be telling the truth about the matter, his claims are all over the place.

Posted by Picasa