You know you live in a small community when something happens and a whirlwind of misinformation spreads like wildfire. On Saturday, May 9th, deputies were called to the beach by a property owner to address individuals that were under-aged drinking and building a driftwood fire on the caller’s property. We want to make sure everyone knows that it wasn’t someone targeting a non-resident. Speaking of non-residents, over 3 dozen non-residents were on the beach that day, which takes me to my next subject – a delicate one – the new beach signs.
No one likes signs, including myself, and the ones now in the sand at the beach will be modified to improve the wording. Also, please be aware that over a dozen landowners along the shore will be posting signs on their property and private beach stating “private beach and tidelands.” The IBIC-owned tidelands start around 12 feet to 25 feet from the edge of the bluffs or shoreline property that they abut (varies by property). The IBIC owns the section between Division and Kitsap streets. All tideland past Division and Kitsap are 100% owned by the property owner above them. Please see the plat map below and the article on page 1 of the May edition of the Breeze for more information.
There are a few points that I feel need to be made, and a couple of interesting and relevant discoveries made by the current IBIC Board. In 1938, Universal Securities, the land developer for Indianola, sold to the IBIC the private tidelands of Indianola for the benefit of Indianola residents WITH A STIPULATION: “Should said real property hereby conveyed be used for any purpose or by any person other than those herein above described (Indianola Residents) then in such an event, all right, title and interest in said described real property conveyed shall be forfeited and the same shall revert back to the grantor.”
We have met with legal counsel regarding this and what this stipulation means is that if people other than Indianola residents were found to be on the tidelands Universal Securities or its successor could take the tidelands away! Imagine having the tidelands taken away and given to someone else and Indianola residents being told to stay off of them! You have to remember, as some do but many do not, that Universal Securities was the land developer and when they sold lots it was with the promise that those lot owners would have access to the private beach. It was their hook and many bought because of it. It was with this understanding that my wife’s grandmother and her husband George bought a lot in 1927. In those days, they would get off the steam ship in Indianola and walk up the dock with their suitcase and groceries, following a little deer trail through the woods to their cabin. There were no roads in those days! Can you imagine the beauty of a small handful of lot owners enjoying the beach?
When I became President, having lived here for over 40 years (many have lived here longer) this “stipulation” really bothered me. As I dug through the IBIC files, I found a lot of memorandums and old Breeze articles that spoke of needing signs, and articles saying that “we could lose the beach.” To try to resolve this, once and for all, the Board allowed me to work with an attorney to see if Universal Securities or a successor still existed. Through a highly competent firm and a lot of digging through files at the Secretary of State’s office, we have determined that Universal Securities was dissolved and there is no traceable successor that can take the beach away. The beach is owned in Trust by the IBIC for the benefit of Indianola residents, without threat.
Imagine going from no roads to the roads that we now have coming into Indianola. As I stated above, I have lived here 40 years. Like many of you, I treasure the beach, but if I go back 15 years, 20 years even 30 years, it was always peaceful, fun to walk, and everyone knew everyone. In contrast, today there is a big difference…social media. “Hey, my friends, sunny day let’s all grab a 30-pack of beer and head to Indianola Beach and we will build a beach fire and party to sunset.” You can now tell who is from out of town, because they are all looking down at their phones to see where the party is at. On a sunny day, it’s like New York emptying out to Long Island to be shoulder-to-shoulder on the beach.
I appreciate the emails, the letters, the people I gave my phone number to who called me, so we could talk about the signs, but I have to say I was disappointed that so few offered alternative solutions. If you don’t like something, come back with a solution. We had two open houses with 3 to 4 people attending at which we specifically discussed the signs. In the Breeze and on Facebook, we announce each of our board meetings and everyone has the opportunity to attend and be heard.
People have been saying things like, “Put the ‘Respect the Beach’ sign back up,” or “Put signs up about bad behavior.” Okay, but WHO is going to talk to people when they see that they are not respecting the beach or are exhibiting bad behavior? When we need to call the Sheriff, who is going to point the people out? I’m willing to take all of the signs down IF everyone is willing to be a BEACH AMBASSADOR. This would mean volunteering 4 hours a weekend or weekday to walk the beach, greet people, and reinforce good behavior. It means having ample volunteers to help with crowded streets and directing traffic. It means having volunteers to help by jumping into the recycling container when it is overflowing or contains disallowed items and Waste Management can’t pick it up. It requires volunteers to remove the litter from the beach, volunteers to put beach fires out, volunteers to prevent individuals from over-harvesting clams, seaweed and other shellfish. It means having volunteers to talk to dog owners about picking up dog poop or interrupting people when they go to urinate in the bushes. We would need volunteers to tell people they can’t light off fireworks. It would require everyone. It’s not fair to put all of that on a small handful of people to keep the community peaceful, the tidelands protected, and the natural resources preserved. A few of us are putting in hundreds of hours, while the greater community does nothing to protect the beach. That’s not my definition of a community.
I will be at the Pavilion the next couple of Saturdays at 9AM if you wish to discuss your solutions to the signs and preserving the beach. I will post on the bulletin board all the letters that we have received, so you can see how the community feels, and I will bring a sign-up sheet for you to volunteer to be a “Beach Ambassador” to reinforce good behavior on the beach and in the community, which includes the town square.
To sum it all up, I see two options: 1) We leave things as they have been and dramatically step up our community policing to ensure our beach and community are preserved, which means a LOT more Indianolans give their time to contribute to these efforts; or 2) We close off the beach to those not from Indianola and focus on preserving the natural environment, so that it can continue to be enjoyed by the residents of Indianola for generations to come. Which option do YOU want? What is clear is that we cannot continue to avoid change, or our beach, the tidelands, and the wildlife that reside there will be the one’s enduring change and then we will all wish we had done something sooner to preserve it. See you Saturday at 9. I look forward to hearing about the solutions you have in mind.
Don Lantz, IBIC President 2019-2020