A frustrated beachwalker called the newspaper Feb. 1. An annoyed tree house owner called foul. The parents of three young children called it appalling. Law enforcement called it off, while the dredge workers created a compromise.
The Holmes Beach Police Department’s acting chief Sgt. Mike Pilato — with Chief Bill Tokajer on vacation — responded quickly on an ATV to the beachfront scene where the dredge operation was in full force and Angelinos Sea Lodge owner Lynn Tran was pacing and shouting at beachwalkers, ordering them off of what she claimed was her property on the beachfront.
The Angelinos property owners had erected PVC posts and a rope barrier along the beachfront — fronting their controversial tree house. It was apparent, due to the rope and “keep out” signs that were attached to the dredge operation’s orange fence and metal stakes, Tran and husband Richard Hazen wanted to keep people off their property.
But their actions made it impossible for beachwalkers to pass their property.
Dozens of people were waiting to pass on the north and south sides of the blockade.
One of those walkers was George Hollendurski of Annapolis, Md. He said a man was working earlier on the makeshift fence at Angelinos when he told him to stay off the property.
Hollendurski told Pilato the man “held a drill up and told me to stay off his property.” He said the man told him that his property goes “all the way to the water.”
The dredge workers first said they thought the property owner was protecting his beach, but they resolved the immediate issue of a pathway by moving their fence and posts seaward about 3 feet, opening the way for beachwalkers. Then Tran came out and began to yell at a family, the Mosers, on the new path.
The family recently relocated to Sarasota from Illinois, and a relative, visiting from Illinois, was along for their visit to Anna Maria Island and a walk on the beach.
Angelinos owners had apparently planted some sea oat seedlings on the beachfront, but the plants were seaward of their impromptu fence — and, with the orange fence moved — were in the center of the new foot path.
The sea oats became the focus of Tran as she approached the Moser children, yelling for them to get off the seedlings.
The Mosers were shaken, and as they tried to understand what Tran was yelling about, Pilato arrived to calm the situation.
He took Tran aside and spoke to her, and she returned indoors. The path remained open and the focus on the beach returned to the pipeline — directly in front of Angelinos — gushing it’s sandy flume and the bulldozers pushing sand up to the beachfront properties — up to the orange fence.
According to the dredge workers on the beach, the fence provided a marker for where they must finish pushing the sand, raising the beach above the adjoining properties, sand or dunes.
Pilato and another officer then went to visit the Angelinos owners about the beachfront property dispute, but Pilato first indicated it may be necessary for code enforcement to return there and for the city to determine where the Angelinos property terminates on the beach.
During hearings on the disputed tree house construction, the city claimed the structure was built seaward of the erosion control line — the fixed property line established for the 1992 and future beach renourishment projects between the upland owner and the state of Florida.