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Date of Issue: January 25, 2007

Parking woes described, solutions next for Bradenton Beach

Parking problems have been voiced along Bradenton Beach streets and parks. Solutions will be aired later this week.

About 40 residents, business owners and workers attended the first of a series of town hall meetings to discuss and offer solutions to the parking dilemma within the city. Although most in attendance said parking woes were most prevalent in the area from Cortez Road south to the start of Cortez Beach, residents at the north and south reaches of the city said they too saw beachgoers parking in their lots and in front of their property.

Parking facilitator Alan Garrett said the city’s parking issues are not unique but in fact common on barrier islands. He assisted Siesta Village businesses in the creation of a parking lot there "at considerable expense," he said.

Parking issues in Bradenton Beach ranged from just a general lack of places for vehicles to public unawareness of where people can park and from poaching of spaces in condos to lack of enforcement and lack of adequate, safe, lighted areas where people can leave their cars at night.

The city purchased a lot on First Street several years ago and converted it into a parking lot. Several citizens said that employees or area businesses quickly fill the lot, denying access to visitors who could then patronize businesses on Bridge Street.

BeachHouse Restaurant owner Ed Chiles echoed that concern, but focused on beachgoers. He said his lot is often half-filled with cars even before the restaurant opens, causing a problem for patrons during busy lunch and dinner hours.

Several people expressed a desire to see better utilization of the Manatee Trolley as a means to ease the parking dilemma, adding that increased marketing of the buses as a solution to finding a place to park and better night lighting for greater safety is desired.

And, of course, there was a wish for the city to purchase and allocate more property for parking.

Garrett asked people to attend the next meeting of the open forum with a "blue-sky" wish for a parking solution. He offered as an example the concept of making Bridge Street one way, which would allow angle parking along much of the road on both sides and greatly increase the parking. Perhaps First Street could also be used as a one-way street, he added.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale has estimated that there are about 95 legal, public parking spaces in the Bridge Street area.

The next town hall meeting on parking will be at 5 p.m. Jan. 24 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.