Sand Dune Up for a Vote

Posted by Dave Fratello on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 at 10:09pm.

Tuesday night, the fate of Sand Dune Park could be sealed.

After years of on-and-off controversy about "overuse" of the park, it has come to this. The city council is set to "consider" various "operational and parking options" for Sand Dune tonight. (See agenda here.) Council may or may not reach a final resolution after the discussion.

The Dune has been closed since August, and multiple commission meetings have attempted to sort out the options. Removing the fences now and going back to the status quo ante won't happen.

Permanent closure seemed to be the consensus of officials in recent discussions.

The only option that appears to have a chance at keeping the park open is some combination of a usage-limiting paid permit system for visitors, plus new neighborhood parking restrictions. One staff scenario suggested a $3-per-visitor fee for walking The Dune. (See the new staff report on Dune options here.)

Neighbors impacted by the park's heavy usage have had the loudest voices to date, understandably. As the prospect of permanent closure has grown, resistance has, too. Recently a lobby channeling the voices of locals and out-of-area park users has been established (see sanddunepark.com), but we'll see if that development came in time. (Our pic is drawn from their site.)

No doubt, one reason The Dune has been controversial is because "outsiders" flocked to it. A recent Beach Reporter article quite unfortunately said that, last July, "people swarmed the dune like a plague of locusts." Critics of the park label it an "international workout facility." What do those sorts of complaints suggest about MB residents' attitudes?

That's why MB might be best served by any plan that tries, sincerely, to reopen The Dune.

For one thing, locals get their park back. For another, revenue from the permit system could even reduce city costs below what closure, with monitoring, would cost. And finally, we might look like we're trying to be neighborly about this collection of problems we've got because our city has something nice and unique about it.

An MB treasure, and MB's reputation, could be at stake.

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UPDATE: Without voting on a specific proposal, the council made clear its intention to look only at options for the future of the park that would sharply limit Dune usage and effectively ban "workouts." They ordered city staff to study options. A brief article in the Daily Breeze captures the essence of the orders council put out early Wednesday morning. More in the comments below.
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