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Dear sandy,

It seems to me that back in the 80's the spring break crowds were much larger. It seems that throughout the years, the crowds have been dwindling in size. A good part of the reason why is because of the strict law enforcement. It seems that each year the police crack down harder and harder on spring breakers. It's obvious they want to hand out their tickets to make some money for their police stations. Stopping cars left and right and handing out tickets like candy will leave a bad taste in spring breakers' mouths for SPI as next years spring break area...                        
-eye for business

I was really fortunate this year in that I did not have to get out into the fray much at all during SB'02, so my perceptions are based pretty much on what I have heard other locals report and the postings of returning spring breakers on the SPIonline.com SB message board.

While some reports bordered on the ridiculous (i.e. handing out lack-of-seatbelt tickets to cars inching along at 2 mph) the majority of post-break posts say something like, "I just came back from the best week in my life. The cops were (not always nice) but a lot of them looked the other way for minor infractions and seemed pretty cool. " While no one wants to see our community turn into a police state for the month of March, I also believe that most would agree that a spring break with little or no evidence of authority in sight would certainly be less than desirable.

As for turnout being lighter than it was 12+ years ago, I'm not sure but I think the documented numbers of bookings would dispute that; there are so many more rooms available now than there were back then. I have indeed read that this year's numbers were down from predictions -- but I can't help but wonder where we would have put the additional 30-50,000 "missing" breakers during Texas Week. It sure seemed plenty full to me!

Overall, I think that the city handled the crowds as well or better than could be expected (though again, I had the luxury of observation from my mostly-quiet, mostly-residential neighborhood) and are to be commended. I am very interested in other opinions, however -- and would encourage anyone who has one to post it (anonymously, if you prefer) on the forum at SPIonline.com.

Hi sandy feet,

Congratulations!!! No sooner had you complained about the Padre Blvd. Bicycle Path protective "baseball bats" that had been knocked down by cars or trucks, than the "powers that be" (Town of SPI, TxDOT??), not only picked up the broken ones, but installed new ones. Some had been laying there since shortly after they were installed (when? I don't remember - at least a year ago). As a longtime bicyclist, I can assure you that the protectors do indeed serve a useful purpose, keeping (most) vehicles out of the bicycle lane. So you've made the world a little safer for us and pedestrians, in addition to increasing Island aesthetics.

Now, for your next project, might I suggest that you write something about the condition of the sidewalk along Gulf Blvd. You may not have been aware that this was a problem, unless you own a pair of rollerblades. But the small stones that you probably don't even notice while walking can cause nasty spills. These have been accumulating since the street was repaved in '98 (or '99??). As a result of this, many rollerbladers skate out in the street, which, needless to say, can be a bad idea. My understanding is that the Town does not own a sweeper, but that TxDOT does, which it periodically uses on Padre Blvd. So if the Town could borrow it, or convince TxDOT to make a couple of passes on Gulf, the situation would dramatically improve. It would probably need redoing only every year or so. Most of the larger construction sites are pretty good about keeping their sidewalk clean. A word from someone of your eminence might be all that is needed!?
-local bike guy

While I am not convinced the timing wasn't just a lucky coincidence, it was indeed gratifying to see swift action taken on the bike path protector problem. I believe that - generally speaking - "the powers that be" are interested in hearing comments and feedback from the public on these kinds of matters, particularly when it concerns a safety issue. (In fact, the city has an excellent web-site posted at http://www.town.south-padre-island.tx.us/ that makes it easy to contact individual department heads directly.)

What the heck, I am for anything that improves safety for recreating locals and visitors, especially if it can be accomplished as expeditiously as you suggest it might. Someone out there knows how to make this happen -- let's hope s/he thinks it's a good idea, too.

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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