Contributed by Edgar Piehl and updated by Paul Gerson & Marsha Van Duren.
In late 1975, the Breezeswept Beach Estates Civic Association (BBECA) was founded by Thelma Livermore, Polly Grant and Susan Hoyt. It began as an informal society of community members and evolved into a formal chartered corporation in July of 1976. This fledgling organization drafted a set of Bylaws, which were approved by the 63 charter members.
In the second year, 1977, Thelma was again elected president and the membership roll increased to 107 members. By now, Breezeswept Beach Estates was recognized by Monroe County, which installed our first street signs. This group also created our first welcoming sign at the entrance of West Indies Drive.
Berry Larson was elected president in 1978 and led a crusade to improve all our side streets so that the post office would deliver mail to all residents. Island beautification and security programs continued as in the previous administration and quarterly newsletters were published to encourage new membership and let the community know about BBECA activities.
In 1979, under President Hubert Davis’ leadership, a project was designed which in 1982 resulted in a 48-inch culvert dug under West Indies Drive from the northernmost canal (between Trinidad and Antigua), to the eastern shore. It was hoped that this improvement to canal circulation would help keep our canals clean. This was BBECA’s largest and most expensive undertaking.
By 1980, the final stage of the road improvement project started by Berry Larson in 1978 was completed by Monroe County at a cost of $350,000. But it wasn’t until 1981 that the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority recognized our community enough to start installing a 6-inch water line from the main line along US 1. During the 20 years prior to this improvement, 2-inch water pipes on top of the ground supplied water to Breezeswept.
Susan Hoyt presided during 1981, and our community had grown from 20 to 100 homes. The initial BBECA era came to an end in 1982 when President Norman Lee proposed that the association become inactive until there were further projects to fulfill.
In 1989, sensing that the community wanted to reactivate the Association, Dick and Nancy Wilson, along with former president Norman Lee, held a meeting with all interested Breezeswept residents to initiate the changing of the guard. Henry Singleton was elected president and all treasury monies were transferred to the new administration. At this time, the treasury balance was $1180.00. The Association membership was built up to 410 members by including absentee homeowners who received the newly revived BBECA Newsletter soliciting new memberships and donations.
|In 1992, Bill Gordon was elected president, and after many letters to and meetings with county officials, he got our roads resurfaced with bike paths on West Indies Drive. This was a major improvement to our community, and cost the county about $150,000. By holding various fundraising activities and soliciting donations, our treasury balance had increased to about $5000. Bill was also instrumental in securing the approval and construction of the southbound turn lane from US1 to Trinidad Lane, another important accomplishment that greatly enhanced highway safety.|| The BBECA revival was enthusiastically supported by the community, and 99 palms were planted along the entrance to West Indies Drive. A water wagon was constructed from an old 550 gallon drum to water the young palm trees, and a watering brigade was started that lasted for three years. The years from 1989 to 1991 were a blossoming of the Association, and projects such as culvert clean out, mangrove trimming, canal cleanup, and channel markers were accomplished under the guidance of presidents Minna Detweiller and Paul Gerson. The first BBECA Handbook was created during these years and was completely paid for by advertisers.
In 1993 Bernie Zanoni was elected president and continued to oversee the repaving project and husbanded our treasury, which then boasted a $9000 bottom line (total assets) with $3,200 from donations earmarked for special projects. The newsletter now was raising money with increased advertising in the form of a flyer inserted in each newsletter. It was a time of prosperity.
BBECA continued on with Bill Boss as president through 1994. These years were filled with social activities such as hay rides, dolphin tournaments, boat rendezvous, block parties, year-end parties, and fund raising activities. But then again, as before in 1982, BBECA interests began to wane because there were no real projects to accomplish. So in 1995 president Paul Gerson decided to let BBECA go dormant until new interest was established. At this point, the treasury balance was $11,000!
Three years later, in May of 1998 a newsletter was distributed with the headline “We’re Back!” This heralded the beginning of a new era revitalized with new names. Dean Moorcroft, a new resident, was elected president and BBECA was enjoying a time of parties mingled with ongoing community improvement activities.
Dean Moorcroft, Joe Frey, and Shelley Cooper shared the presidency in 1999 and 2000. Activities continued with maintenance of the palm trees and channel markers. This was a light-hearted era with emphasis on social activities and maintenance of past improvements. However, interest in BBECA was again lapsing and it was beginning to look like we might be headed for another dormant period.
Then, in 2001 John Clark was elected president. His term began with a rousing reception and BBECA was once again revitalized. John generously volunteered to hold meetings at his home on West Indies and the members enthusiastically agreed. Meeting attendance was significantly increased, and we saved the rent of the Methodist Church where, up until this time, our meetings were always held.
|John’s main initiatives were the improvement of our environment, focused on canal and near shore water quality, an aggressive membership drive, an informative newsletter, and the production of a new BBECA handbook. The Breezeswept Beach Estates 2002 Handbook was completed at the end of 2001, a major accomplishment by the volunteers who wrote the articles, solicited advertisements, provided photographs, and produced and published this colorful and useful book.
John Clark again served as president in 2002. While maintaining all of our ongoing initiatives, John spearheaded a petition drive for the construction of a second culvert, mid-island, designed to enhance water quality within the canal system. A county referendum authorizing a taxing district for construction of the culvert was approved by the property owners. As the project progresses through the regulatory approval process, BBECA continues to monitor the application and provide regular updates to our members.
Jane Tiedeman served as president in 2003 and 2004. During her tenure, our coffers grew and a streamlined accounting system was established. Jane also assumed responsibility for editing and publishing the newsletter, and continued to perform this task throughout 2005 and 2006. During Jane’s tenure, the association’s membership approved the construction of permanent channel markers to replace the informal markers permanently installed. Jane also successfully petitioned the Monroe County Commission to acquire and demolish the infamous Stairway to Heaven.
In 2005, Lee King assumed the presidency, and completed a number of important projects, including maintenance trimming of mangroves along the main canal, rebuilding of our barbecue wagon, and installation of the new channel markers. Lee also supervised the reconstruction of our entrance sign and worked closely with all of our standing committees.
In 2006, John Clark was again elected president. During his tenure, BBECA members voted to create a web site to replace the 2002 Handbook and serve as the vehicle for dissemination of information.
In summary, BBECA has had over 30 years of a colorful past. Our “green” island boasts a palm-tree lined entrance and bike paths along West Indies Drive. Our community is secure, peaceful and neighborly. Our membership has grown to 200 members, and there are currently around 350 houses in Breezeswept Beach Estates. We expect BBECA to continue its good work long into the future.