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Date of Issue: January 19, 2006

Consolidation study not moving - yet

Although both Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach approved a non-binding referendum last November to discuss the feasibility of consolidating either the two cities or some essential services, the initial effort appears to be lagging.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore told the city commission Jan. 10 that she and Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie have not yet been able to schedule a meeting to discuss basic issues.

Whitmore said Chappie still has to get permission from his city commission to proceed with a meeting that would include department heads from both cities.

She also noted that none of Holmes Beach's department heads are in favor of consolidation.

Commission Chairperson Rich Bohnenberger agreed. "I've always said there's nothing in it for Holmes Beach."

So did Anna Maria. That city commission declined to even put the non-binding referendum on the November ballot, citing public input against any consolidation with Holmes Beach or Bradenton Beach.

Whitmore said she hoped to have more to report at the commission's Jan. 24 meeting.

In other business, City Attorney Patricia Petruff said she's completed all the revisions to the proposed ordinance governing the use of docks in the Sunrise Boat Basin, a process that has taken more than two years.

Bohnenberger said the first reading of that ordinance will be on the commission's Jan. 24 meeting agenda.

A similar ordinance governing use of dock space in the city's T-end canals between 76th and 79th streets will be brought to the commission once the Sunrise ordinance passes.

The commission must still establish a dock-use agreement and decide on fees for usage.

Those issues will also be discussed Jan. 24.

In other business, the commission heard a request by the Anna Maria Island Community Center to install a scoreboard at the baseball field. The board would be donated by the Coca-Cola Company, but the city would have to bear the estimated $3,000 installation cost.

Commissioners asked for more details on the size of the scoreboard and a schedule of games when it might be used. The games would be played in the afternoons and on Saturday morning as there are no lights at the field.

The commission also approved a $224,000 contract with Huffman Trucking of Bradenton to begin the Haverkos II drainage basin.

Whitmore informed commissioners that the Manatee County Area Tranist has received the first of four new trolleys that will be integrated into the Island trolley system, replacing the current trolleys. The new trolleys are quieter and will withstand the Island's weather conditions better than the current trolleys.

Kingfish parking

Bohnenberger advised the commission and the public that the Jan. 24 commission meeting should be a fairly full agenda.

In addition to the canal ordinances and proposed land use changes (see separate story), the commission will also take public input and discuss a proposal by Manatee County to increase parking at the Kingfish Boat Ramp on Manatee Avenue at the city limits.

Members of the Westbay Cove Homeowners Association have come out firmly against the proposal and have promised to voice their opinions to the commission at that meeting.

The county has proposed to cut down the Brazilian pepper trees that extend along the shore from the boat ramp to Westbay Cove because these trees are considered "exotic" and "invasive," but Commissioner Roger Lutz has said he considers this explanation just a "smokescreen" for the county to add parking up to the Westbay Cove property line.