Our Story


On December 22, 1926, under The Homestead Act, President Calvin Coolidge granted Lots 1, 2, and 3, of Section 28 in Township three (3) south, Range sixteen (16) west containing one hundred forty and fifty-two one hundredths acres more or less (140.52) to Harry Cailey of Bay County.  On January 25, 1927 Mr. Cailey filed the title to the property2 in Bay County, Florida.  On February 27, 1929, he sold 140 acres of the land to Eula C. Miller by Warranty Deed3,  making no mention of the 52 hundredths acres.

During the 1930s, in spite of  Ms. Miller’s efforts to sell lots in her new development, she  found few takers.  Snakes, mosquitoes, horseflies, no sewage or paved roads and a host of other reasons made it a difficult task to convince people to purchase a lot in Bid-A-Wee.

In January, 1938, as an incentive, Ms. Miller subdivided and platted4 a portion of the land and named it BID-A-WEE Subdivision, which consisted of fourteen blocks lettered A-N. and dedicated ‘forever’ the beach portion of the property to be used for “park purposes only” to those owners of property in the subdivision.

Ms. Miller recorded Covenants5 related to Bid-A-Wee on May 28, 1938.  Subsequently, March 30, 1944, amendments to the covenants were recorded6.

Presently on the western portion of the remainder of the property, the Fountainbleau Condominiums and others sit on about 1900 feet, leaving 2,500 feet of beach which Ms. Miller named Bid-A-Wee  (Scottish for “Bide your time, rest {or stay} awhile”).

For $10 and other considerations, Ms. Miller actually conveyed the property to lot owners but at that time, no one had the forethought to file the title with the Bay County Courthouse.  On July 21, 1945, a document entitled Additional Dedication in Re Bid-A-Wee Plat was filed and recorded7 by Ms. Miller.

Eventually lots began selling and a community began to evolve.  The county started paving roads; the city began installing water and later sewage lines and sales of Eula  Miller’s beach property picked up dramatically.

Bay County filed a lawsuit in 1959 against Eula Miller (later amended to Fred Carpenter, Leonard Graham, Eula Miller et al) seeking the Court to declare the Additional Dedication, dated 1945, “to be void and order it stricken from the records”, and requested, “the Court determine the extent and boundaries of the public park appearing in Plat Book 2, page 23, of the public records of Bay County, Florida”.  In its Final Decree8 dated March 11, 1960, the 14th Judicial Circuit Court determined the 1945 dedication did amend the original Plat and dedication of the Beach and the amendments had been accepted by the County beginning 1947 when it commenced maintenance of “streets and avenues” in the subdivision.  Therefore, the County had, “no right, title or interest in and to the”, parcels ‘a’ and ‘b’ (which included the dedicated beach).

The importance of the 1960 Court ruling is noted in an August 27, 2010 letter/executive summary to Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc.  The document states, “The title company’s, First American Title Insurance Company, interpretation of the import of the lawsuit is that the owners of the additional property included in the Plat (i.e., all of the property outlined in the Plat, including Seaclusion Subdivision, Bid-A-Wee First Addition, Bid-A-Wee Court, Bid-A-Wee Lane, Bid-A-Wee First Addition, North Bid-A-Wee Beach, North Bid-A-Wee Beach First Addition and Seaclusion Beach), would also have access to the Beach vis-a-vis the dedication since they were not originally named in the lawsuit”.

A decade following the Bay County lawsuit, an elderly Ms. Miller, considered senile, was living in a nursing home in Lynn Haven, FL.

In February, 1974, Leonard Graham, a Realtor and relative by marriage, bought two lots from Ms. Miller, located in Block G, behind where the Pizza Hut once stood on the corner of Nautilus & Front Beach Road9.  Before Graham filed the title, he allegedly inserted an additional one line sentence between the description of the lots and house with furniture and fixtures which read, “all interest in the property lying south of US 98, between Crane and Nautilus Street, in said subdivision.”  Ms. Miller signed the title transfer.  Graham thought he had described the location of the beach property.

A Clarification and Renunciation of Dedication10 dated May 12, 1975, signed by Ms. Miller, voided the 1945 Dedication.  Her reasons to renounce the dedication included her statement that the beach and picnic areas were not being maintained and a commercial parking lot was allowed to be built on the beach property.  On May 19, 1975 a Warranty Deed11 by Eula Miller conveys to Leonard Graham the dedicated beach property.

Following the death of Ms. Miller, Graham was relentless in his unsuccessful efforts to rescind the dedication, develop the beach or sell it for a huge profit.  After learning of Graham’s ongoing efforts, the property owners formed an organization called Save-Our-Beach, Inc. (SOB).  The purpose of the organization was to protect the dedication from being rescinded, build and maintain crosswalks, protect the beach and sand dunes, keep the beach in a pristine condition and assume responsibility for and pay the annual taxes on the beach property.

“Lot owners, residents or inhabitants of Bid-A-Wee Subdivision as found in Plat Book 2, page 23, records of Bay County, Florida” (Plaintiffs), filed a lawsuit, Case No. 77-1970 against  Leonard Graham, et al (Defendants) in which Plaintiffs asked the Court to declare null and void the recorded Clarification and Renunciation of Dedication by Ms. Miller.  In its Final Judgment12, the Court ordered, “the renunciation by Eula C. Miller” … “is hereby declared null and void and of no force or effect”.  The Court further ordered, “defendants are hereby enjoined from asserting any claim in or conveying any interest in the dedicated lands unless subject to the rights of the owners, residents and inhabitants of Bid-A-Wee Subdivision…to use as a park the dedicated lands”.  In addition, Plaintiffs are, “hereby enjoined from allowing any portion of the park to be used for commercial parking”.  The efforts of SOB (the owners, residents and inhabitants of BAW Subdivision) are the greatest factor in Graham’s unsuccessful efforts to rescind the dedication.  Although amended, the original dedication remains intact today and is considered a highly restrictive covenant.

On December 28, 1983, a frustrated Leonard Graham sold and financed the two lots for ten-years to Frank Schilleci who owned the Fiesta Motel adjacent on the east end of the dedicated beach13.  Schilleci also owned several other beach motels.  After Schilleci paid off the property, he also tried unsuccessfully to rescind the dedication.

When Schilleci installed a drainage system under the east end of the beach to catch runoff water from the Fiesta and pipe it onto the beach and into the Gulf, SOB took legal action to stop him.  The Judge ruled Mr. Schilleci had a right to protect his property by installing pipes under the beach.  The lawsuit pertained only to his right to install the drainage system and did not contest his ownership of the beach property.  Schilleci contracted with locals to rent Ski Doos behind his Motel allowing them to drive their pickup trucks onto the beach crossing the drainage pipes.  The trucks created deep ruts and combined with weather, eroded the beach and eventually broke the pipes.  Later, Hurricane Opal (1995) destroyed the beach and the drainage system leaving a huge gully along side Front Beach Road.

The east end of Bid-A-Wee Beach (BAWB) was an unsightly mess and again SOB took legal action against Schilleci.  Although the Judge again ruled in Schilleci’s favor, he additionally ruled that Schilleci must, in accordance with the dedication, make necessary repairs and maintain the system, keeping the beach in pristine condition.  It was during that lawsuit that Schilleci discovered the description on the title did not describe the beach.  Schilleci had his attorney amend the description from, “in said subdivision”,14 to read, “south of said subdivision15.   It appeared Schilleci had strengthened his title by changing the language in the property description.

In 1992, the Attorney for SOB proposed a strategy for the organization to gain ownership of the beach.  He advised that since the property belonged to Schilleci, for a three year period, SOB should stop paying property taxes on the beach.  At the end of the three-year period, the property would be auctioned on the courthouse steps.  SOB, would advise potential bidders that all they would be purchasing, like Graham and Schilleci, were the right to pay taxes on the beach.  SOB would bid on and purchase the property and the Board of Directors approved a bid of up to $45,000.

Precedent for rescinding dedications of beach property had previously been established by Long Beach and Edgewater Beach.  A few members of SOB did not agree with the strategy, believing a strong possibility existed of a wealthy individual or corporation successfully out-bidding SOB at the tax auction for the beach.  An entity other than SOB would gain ownership and eventually rescind the dedication.  Consequently those in disagreement split from SOB and formed another beach organization naming it Bid-A-Wee Dedicated Beach, Inc. (BAWDB).

During the three-year period, both organizations were plotting their strategy.  On the last day, when the beach property was scheduled for auction, Ms. Judy Keeton, a member of the BAWDB organization and a Eula Miller-like entrepreneur, wrote a check for over $17,000 to pay the delinquent taxes and penalties on the property, preventing it from going to auction.  At one time she owned over twenty lots in Bid-A-Wee subdivision, some with rental units.

Although both organizations were doing what they believed would keep the beach and the dedication from being rescinded, Bid-A-Wee became a divided community, torn apart by the two organizations.  Ms. Keeton, in an effort to recover her money, brought a lawsuit against SOB.  The date of the hearing arrived and Ms. Keeton’s attorney, citing a misunderstanding of the court date, did not appear at Court.  The somewhat disgruntled judge ruled in favor of SOB16.  Ms. Keeton did not recover her money and was ordered to pay attorney fees and court costs for SOB.  Ms. Keeton personally spent more than $20,000 doing what she, and others, believed was right.

Following Hurricane Opal (1995), Schilleci had a concrete cantilevered seawall constructed to add stability to the foundation of his motel.  The over one-hundred foot seawall was illegally located twenty-three feet onto the dedicated property.  BAWDB discovered Schilleci had failed to secure a building permit and contacted the City of Panama City Beach.  The City corrected itself by issuing an after-the-fact permit.  BAWDB brought a lawsuit against Mr. Schilleci over his breach of the dedication and this time, added his questionable ownership of the beach property.  The presiding judge stated,  “you people have been fighting over this beach for fifty years and I’m bringing in a Mediator from Tallahassee to settle the issue once and for all.”

In February 1997, the mediator and all concerned parties met at the office of Schilleci’s attorney.  BAWDB invited officers of the SOB organization and their attorney to attend.  After over eight hours of mediation, no agreement was reached and nothing had been accomplished.  Finally, the Mediator asked if anyone had anything else to add.  Although BAWDB had previously provided several documents to their attorney,  the attorney believed it would have no bearing on mediation.  Therefore, the attorney for BAWDB did not present any of the documents as evidence.

A non-attorney spokesperson for BAWDB stated he had something to add and opened with the statement, “Mr. Schilleci does not, nor has he ever owned the beach property, and I can prove it.”  Schilleci and his attorney loudly expressed their disagreement.

The spokesperson presented documents to the mediator and read the described property off the original title and told him he had spoken with the Florida Department of Transportation for an interpretation of the described property.  The DOT explained the described property in the title is located in Bid-A-Wee subdivision, not the beach and agreed to testify.  He also pointed out Schilleci’s wording change in the deeds to “south of said subdivision” from “in said subdivision.”  The DOT said the location of the beach property was either south of US Highway 98A (alternate), Front Beach Road or State Road 10, as described on state records; not US Highway 98 which is PC Beach Parkway or Back Beach Road.  On March 12, 1997, the attorney for BAWBP received a Statement and an executed and notarized Corrective Warranty Deed from Leonard Graham.  Mr. Graham’s statement included a hand-written note to Ms. Keeton.

The Mediator said that while BAWDB had tangible evidence to take to court and would likely win, the case could last 3-5 years and cost the organization up to $500,000.  Exactly what BAWDB would win was also in question.  Therefore, the Mediator suggested a settlement.  Schilleci would transfer the title to the beach to BAWDB and the organization would allow him to keep the seawall.  All lawsuits would be dropped.

At the time of the Mediation Agreement, on October 16, 1997, Mr. Schilleci owned all five lots on Front Beach Road in block A, beginning at Crane Street.  After more deliberation his attorney said he would agree to the transfer the dedicated beach property if BAWDB would allow him to keep the beach property directly across the street in front of those lots.  Most of the members from both beach organizations wanted to accept that proposal and after further discussions, all accepted the proposition with the stipulation the dedication would remain intact and that Schilleci be required to abide by the dedication.

Schilleci would transfer approximately 2220 feet of beach to BAWDB.  Schilleci would retain the 30 feet of Crane Street and the 250 feet next to his Fiesta Motel, giving him a total of 280 feet.  Schilleci insisted the two beach organizations dissolve and form one beach organization.  He refused to transfer the title to one organization and risk the other one continuing to bring lawsuits against him.  After the two organizations merge, he would then transfer the title to the new organization.

The two beach organizations merged into Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc. (BAWBP) on December 9, 1997.  In July, 1998, after a long delay and additional conflict, Schilleci executed a Quit Claim Deed17 between Frank Schilleci and Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc.

In 2003 Schilleci sold the Fiesta Motel and his Bid-A-Wee beach property to BAB Developers.  Bob Blackerby of BAB immediately made an effort to establish and maintain a relationship with BAWBP.  On March 8 2004, in an exceptional gesture of goodwill, Mr. Blackerby executed a Quit Claim Deed18  between BAB II, LLC and BAWBP for the portion of the beach Schilleci retained.

On March 23, 2006 a Corrective Quit Claim Deed19 was executed between BAB II, LLC and BAWBP.  Presently, Bid-A-Wee Beach Park, Inc. holds title to the entire 2,500 feet of beach that Ms. Miller had originally dedicated to the BAW Community.  Throughout all the legal struggles, the neighborhood organizations paid the taxes, built, replaced, repaired and maintained the crosswalks and installed a chain link fence to protect the sand dunes.  Most importantly, these organizations succeeded in protecting the Dedication of Bid-A-Wee Beach, “for Park Purposes Only, for the use of all owners, residents and inhabitants of Bid-A-Wee Subdivision”, …(taken from Dedication document).

In 2002 BAWBP began negotiating with the Bay County Tax Assessors office to waive taxes on the beach property in accordance with Florida Statute.  In 2004 Bay County granted the waiver, declaring Bid-A-Wee Beach an amenity to the residents of the BAW community.  Subsequently, the beach property was removed from the tax role.  The amenity of a dedicated beach for park purposes increases the value, and desirability, of every lot in the BAW Community.

Public Records Bay County Website:  http://records2.baycoclerk.com/OncoreWeb/search.aspx


  1. “Story of Bid-A-Wee” as approved and  recorded in Official Minutes of Board of Directors meeting held October 12, 2013.
  2. Deed Book 49, Page 503.
  3. Deed Book 57, Page 422.
  4. Deed Book 2, Page 23.
  5. Deed Book 72, Page 39.
  6. Deed Book 90, Page 333.
  7. Deed Book 93, Page 500.
  8. Official Records Book 1, Page 324.
  9. Deed Book 457, Page 114.
  10. Official Record Book 520, Page 18.
  11. Official Record Book 605, Page 583.
  12. Official Record Book 794, Page 141.
  13. Official Record Book 959, Page 1765.
  14. Deed Book 457, Page 114.
  15. Deed Book 959, Page 1765.
  16. Official Record Book 1696, Page 184.
  17. Deed Book 1803, Page 2392.
  18. Deed Book 2407, Page 1677.
  19. Deed Book 2753, Page 1914.