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Date of Issue: October 19, 2006

Holmes Beach beautification board supports Kingfish 'preserve'

Members of the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee agreed to urge the mayor to support a proposal by Westbay Cove residents to preserve the strip of land between the Rotary welcome sign and Westbay Cove’s property on Manatee Avenue.

The committee received a status report from Westbay Cove resident Molly McCartney on Manatee County’s plans to improve Kingfish Boat Ramp at its Oct. 11 meeting.

Earlier the same day McCartney said she met with County Commissioner Joe McClash and Manatee County’s Ecosystem Administrator Charlie Hunsicker. She said, "nothing is set in stone, but the group came to a happy medium."

Previously the Manatee County Commission had proposed expanding parking into the area beyond the dolphin/manatee welcome sign. McCartney said both McClash and Hunsicker indicated to one of the most important aspects of the Westbay Cove proposal.

"They are not touching the Rotary sign," she said, meaning that they will not move it from its location. In addition, they agreed to prohibit parking behind the sign.

McCartney said there are plans to remove the Brazilian pepper trees and replace them with native plants. The Australian pine trees should remain in the picnic areas. McCartney said an agreement was also reached to relocate the palm tree clusters in the parking area of the ramp, in order to provide more parking spaces. There is also talk of establishing a clear entrance and exit route for vehicles utilizing the parking area.

In her meeting McCartney learned that the county would like to prohibit parking across the street from the ramp due to the safety issues in crossing Manatee Avenue.

McCartney said there are also talks of putting in a bike path that would not trespass on Westbay Cove property.

McCartney said her next step is to put into writing the results of her meeting and forward it to McClash for approval. Following that there will likely be another work session scheduled with McClash and Hunsicker. McCartney noted that engineers have not yet evaluated the proposed plan.

She said that Islanders would likely see things progress smoothly over the course of the next year, but should not expect changes overnight.

"The agreement satisfies our concerns in terms of safety and aesthetics," McCartney said. "Kingfish should be a beautiful space in welcoming visitors as they come across the bridge."

The committee will meet again at 5 p.m. Nov. 8 and members have invited McCartney back to provide a status report.