'No longer a family-friendly public beach spot': Councilwoman addresses confusing signs at public beach access

Savannah Vasquez
The Osteen Public Beach Access starts at Gulf Shores Drive.

In recent months controversy has arisen over the private beach on Holiday Isle known as Parcel B. This beach, owned in part by Peter Bos of Legendary Inc., is used as a private beach for guests of the Emerald Grande. The stretch of beach is in the same vicinity as the O’Steen public beach access.

“Its very confusing for someone who doesn’t know where this access is,” said city Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell. “Signage is being placed to tell people to turn left into the dunes. There is just a lot of misdirection, and if you are not a local you would not know that if I go left I am going into the dunes and that’s illegal.”

Ramswell said that last week she received multiple calls from residents claiming that new signs had been put up on the path indicating there was no public beach at the O’Steen Access. After investigating the area herself, she then sent a lengthy email to City Manager Greg Kisela asking what could be done to address the confusion.

“Any tourist or nonlocal that chooses to enter the beach at this access would see the signs and be led directly into the dunes, left with the impression that there is no public beach access from the Osteen path," she wrote.

"If you do continue along the wall marking the true Osteen path, eventually you reach the beach and are greeted with another sign. This is a directional sign that indicates 'path to public beach' with an arrow indicating straight ahead. This leads people past all the chairs and set ups down toward the jetty.

Again, locals understand that there is a state park and public access at Osteen, but anyone else would be completely led astray and misdirected. If one were to believe and follow the initial signage pointing left, he/she would find themselves illegally wandering the dunes.”

Ramswell went on in the email to describe her personal experience at the beach access which she said is, “no longer a family-friendly public beach spot.”

Kisela told The Log the issues surrounding the O’Steen Access and Parcel B have been made, “somewhat controversial by the residents out there.”

He said since receiving Ramswell’s email he also visited the site in person and then spoke with representatives of Legendary Inc.

“I went out there on Tuesday because I wanted to see the sign,” he said. “Legendary put up the signs and I’ve spoken to Legendary and to Bruce Craul with the Emerald Grande. They didn’t say they would take them down, but they did say they would look at it.”

When asked what the solution might be to settling the dispute, Kisela said he doesn’t really see one.

“I don’t know if there’s a solution,” he said. “The 20-foot rule applies on Parcel B so the public has the right to use that. The signs that are posted, are posted on private property.”

As for the Emerald Grande, a message left for Craul wasn't returned by press time.

For her part, Ramswell said the solution is keeping the lines of communication open and constructive with all effected parties.

“I know discussions have been ongoing with the Emerald Grande and city staff and we are trying to reach a mutual solution,” said Ramswell. “With the placement of signs, and just making sure they are not confusing. The hope is this can all be resolved amicably with out having to go to council and make resolutions or heaven forbid taking any sort of legal action.”