ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - A fence at the base of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine was the topic of conversation at Monday night's city hall meeting.
St. Augustine City Commissioners heard from people who are not happy about the fence that went up about a month ago.
"It just totally disrupts the beauty of the bridge and bay and what everyone has been seeing for years and years," said St. Augustine resident, John Danahy.
The privacy fence was put up at the eastern base of the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine by Virginia Whetstone, the owner of the Anchorage Hotel. Whetstone was expected to show up at Monday night's meeting, but instead of facing numerous critics, Whetstone sent a statement to City Commissioners.
Whetstone said in the statement that she put up the fence for three reasons. First, she cited security reasons, writing "security, (hotel) guests want to be in a safe environment."
Privacy was Whetstone's second reason for putting up the fence. "Privacy has become another critical requirement as paying guests seek separation," wrote Whetstone.
The third reason, Whetstone said in her statement, was liability. "Liability is the most critical issue," said Whetstone. Whetstone said she doesn't want walkers falling on rocks on her property.
"The vista is gone," said St. Augustine resident, Patricia Danahy. "You just see fence. If it were open, like a metal fence that you could see through, that wouldn't be so contentious."
"The view's been there since 1927," said another resident, Penny Chamberlain. "Of course it was there before that, but it's taken away an 86-year-old view."
The missing view isn't the only controversy surrounding the fence. When the fence went up the Florida Department of Transportation received complaints and determined that the fence could not remain on the concrete cap of the bridge because it "infringes on the right of way of the state".
Whetstone's lawyer, Andrew Brigham, is in discussions with FDOT about the fate of the controversial fence.
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