The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 45 - September 3, 2014


Parking ban discussions continue

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

joe hendricks | sun

Alternative parking sites are one of many options being
addressed by the Island Congestion Committee. The sign shown
above was at the corner of Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive during
Labor Day weekend.


HOLMES BEACH – The Island Congestion Committee continues their efforts to have an ordinance passed that restricts right of way parking in residential areas.

During last week’s commission work session, representatives Carol Soustek and Jayne Christenson provided a recap of the previous day’s committee meeting.

The focus of the committee meeting was the proposal to eliminate right of way and street parking in residential neighborhoods; to identify unused and existing parking spaces in Holmes Beach; to ensure compliance with beach renourishment funding, as spelled out in an interlocal agreement; and the need to establish and adhere to a timeline for enacting these measures.

Soustek said the committee needs direction from the commission as to how to proceed with their desire to get an ordinance passed.

“In our meeting yesterday, we started looking at what we ultimately want to do with our parking, and that’s to get the ordinance changed to eliminate parking in residential areas. That’s the ultimate goal and we’re taking these steps to get there,” Christenson explained.

“Jan. 1 is a really good time to start, so if that was the goal, then you work backwards and say when do we need everything complete? What we came to yesterday, is the ordinance is the biggest thing that needs to happen; and that takes a long time with all the readings you have to do. It’s going to take a couple months, so we need to start now,” she added

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said a rough sketch of a draft ordinance would save time and assist the commission in the creation of a new ordinance.

Christenson said the committee has committed to doing the legwork and research, and is working out as many details as possible, including parking decals for residents and passes for guests.

In regard to identify existing parking spaces to ensure that the public is aware of their existence, Soustek said many of the spaces the committee identified are located near beach access areas, but there are no signs informing visitors that they can park there.

She said the committee would like to see parking signs placed in these areas so motorists can utilize the spaces rather than park in the neighborhoods.

In regard to preventing the loss of parking-related beach renourishment funds, the committee has suggested that the city’s existing interlocal agreement with Manatee County be amended rather than creating a new one from scratch.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino questioned whether the 2001 interlocal agreement is up to date in regard to current parking spaces and locations and asked if a newer agreement exists.

Deputy Clerk Lori Kee said she would check to see if the city had a newer document and Zaccagnino said he would seek clarification from county officials.

“I’m willing to move forward, but we need to have our ducks in a row. Let’s get these things tightened up before we move to the next step,” he said.

“I don’t want to go through this process and then found out our beach renourishment isn’t going to happen,” he added.

Although it was not discussed at last week’s meeting, an Aug. 23 e-mail that Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker sent to County Commissioner Carol Whitmore addresses concerns about local parking plans impacting beach renourishment funding.

“My direction to each Island city mayor in sharing the draft parking study conducted by the county (which concluded that full eligibility for state funding had been met) was that it would be the cities’ responsibility to communicate directly with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – the state granting agency for funding beach renourishment – to obtain the state's written assurance that any change to beach public access and parking status quo proposed by a city would not jeopardize the current status of full eligibility for county grant funding within their city limits,” Hunsicker wrote.

“I can not accept this same responsibility by assignment from the Island Congestion Committee, despite all good intentions and direction received from the Holmes Beach City Commission, unless I am so directed by my county administrator,” he concluded.

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