New beach amenities grow concern for popular fish camp

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SARASOTA COUNTY - New restrooms and a concession stand are going in at North Jetty Park in Nokomis.  While the county says the iconic fish camp there is staying, some are worried it could be the beginning of the end for the camp.

Huck Kauffman has spent many a minute there. "The boats going by, the people are all good. I can sit and tell lies and they don't even catch me at it."

Recently he's been watching the nearly one and a half million dollar construction project just feet away. "We need some improvements to the facilities."

There are concerns though that it means the fish camp which currently sells concessions may be phased out. "What are you going to do? If they make up their mind they are going to make this a Sharky's out of this over here or something they will tear this down."

It's a piece of Nokomis history some say was placed there in the 40's. "It's an old trolley car.  The Nebraska.  It came out of Tampa." Ed Irons has worked there for 16 years. He says they've been told they both can exist. "It's supposed to stay. What's going to happen? It's up the county."

Director of Parks and Recreation for Sarasota County Carolyn Brown says that is the plan. "There are no plans to do anything to it as of yet. We will just kind of open everything and see how it goes."

She does say the new stand will be selling the food.  But the iconic hangout could still sell bait and maybe some other items. Workers have started a petition to keep running it after the current long time operator retires soon.

Brown says the person who ends up running it will do so for both. "There is a competitive bid that is out on the streets to operate the facilities."

Progress for some along the beach, just making sure a piece of rustic old Florida doesn't pay the price says Kauffman. "I think it's special. That's my story and I'm sticking to it."

Construction on the new amenities is expected to be complete by November.

In recent years the Army Corp of Engineers has expressed concern about the fish camp and maintaining the jetty. County officials say they have heard nothing as of late.