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A nude beach in Palm Beach County? It could happen


quiet Palm Beach County beach wedged between four municipalities could become a tourist hot spot for nude sunbathing — if a local group has its way.

A grassroots group of county residents wants to transform the north end of Gulfstream Park, a 6-acre destination between the coastal towns of Briny Breezes and Gulf Stream and the cities of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, into a clothing-optional beach.

The group, called the Palm Beach County Freedom Beach Initiative, sent a letter to the county commission Thursday expressing interest.

A nudist beach, said Palm Beach County resident Karl Dickey, who leads the effort, would drive tourism and generate revenue for the county and surrounding cities. There are no nude beaches in the county.

“We’re leaving money on the table here,” Dickey told The Palm Beach Post.

Dickey proposes designating the north end of the park clothing-optional because he claims it is far from residences and separated from Ocean Boulevard by dense shrubbery, obstructing the line of sight.

“You’d basically need a telescope to see the beach from (nearby homes),” he said.

RELATED: Palm Beach County puts a wrinkle in plan for nude beach

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams, whose south county district includes Gulfstream Park, said he forwarded Dickey’s letter to the Tourist Development Council.

The council and the county’s parks and recreation department will have to evaluate the request and recommend it to the county commission.

“The question will be whether this fits in with the image that we try to promote in Palm Beach County, as a family-friendly county,” Abrams said.

The closest nude beaches to Palm Beach County are Haulover Beach, at the north end of Miami-Dade County, and Blind Creek Beach in Fort Pierce, both at least an hour’s drive from Gulfstream.

“It isn’t fair that Palm Beachers have to drive an hour for a clothing-optional beach,” Dickey said.

There is one nudist colony in Palm Beach County: Sunsport Gardens, a 40-acre resort in the town of Loxahatchee Groves.

Dickey acknowledges there is a stigma associated with nudism or naturism that might spark some backlash. But Dickey hopes to dispel misconceptions.

“Nothing happens at a nude beach that doesn’t happen at any other beaches,” he said, adding that naturists are some of the “friendliest, most nonjudgmental people I know.”

The beach effort will undoubtedly see some resistance. Gulfstream Park is a family destination that includes a free parking lot, playground, benches and grills, one beach-goer noted.

“This is a family-friendly environment,” said Ferdinand Andres, a Boynton Beach resident who brought his children to the beach Friday. “I bring my kids here often, and, I mean, come on.”

Daniel Dangal, a Boca Raton resident who makes the trip to Gulfstream because of its seclusion, said the nude beach would bring too much traffic to a quiet county gem.

“I like it the way it is,” Dangal said. “That’s why I drive up here. It would bring too much activity to the area.”

Others, such as Stan Rabinobich, a seasonal resident who splits his time between New York and Boynton Beach, support the effort.

“It’s a big beach and it would be separated,” said Rabinobich, who quickly noted he wouldn’t be visiting the nudist portion of the beach. “It’s not going to bother anyone, so why not?”

Boynton Beach Mayor Steven Grant opposes the idea of a public nude beach.

“I understand that it is a freedom of expression … however, I think it is more of a private thing,” Grant said. “So if there is a private entity that wants to have a nude beach, that is something I’d welcome. However, a public nude beach is something I would be against.”

Wally Majors, director of Boynton’s parks and recreation department, noted that there are benefits, but also obstacles.

“The pros would be certainly that it would become a destination point,” Majors said. “It’s definitely something that would generate a lot of attention.”

But, Majors added, limited parking, public access and some type of buffer between the portions of the beach should be considered.

The surrounding communities are far too conservative to support such a venture, said Linda Loch, who has owned Briny Hair Salon just north of Gulfstream Park for 30 years.

“It’s a person’s choice whether they want to go to a nude beach,” Loch said. “What I know about Gulfstream is it’s very conservative.”

Bill Strucker, who owns Gulfstream Pharmacy also north of Gulfstream Park, said a shortage of parking would likely cause problems.

“Most people in an area, which is mostly private residences, would not want any nudists in the area anyhow,” said Strucker, who has owned the pharmacy for 60 years.

Back in the 1970s, what is now MacArthur State Park in North Palm Beach was, though unofficially, a clothing-optional beach.

A 2-mile stretch of coastline belonging to insurance billionaire John D. MacArthur had a reputation as one of the nation’s largest nude beaches.

When MacArthur died in 1978, the state bought 263 acres of the beachfront and cracked down on the nudity.

There was an effort just five years ago to designate a portion of Delray’s beachfront clothing-optional. But the petition-driven movement never reached elected officials for a vote, and ultimately flopped.

If the Gulfstream Park effort doesn’t pan out by the end of the summer, Dickey said, the group, which touts more than 300 local members, will likely convene nude on Gulfstream’s beach in protest.

They would bring their own signs and barriers marking the area clothing-optional.

Said Dickey: “We’ll exert our right.”



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