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Date of Issue: October 05, 2006

Coquina Beach parking scheme reviewed by officials

A new look may be coming to the parking area of Coquina Beach.

Manatee County and Bradenton Beach officials met last week to discuss the popular park at the south end of Anna Maria Island. The discussions focused on better managing ingress and egress at the facility, and county officials vowed to present plans for the mile-long parking area within two months.

Nothing came up regarding any law enforcement issues at the park, which was a concern earlier this year when county officials briefly permitted a beach party that organizers said would involve hundreds of area youths. When alerted to the size of the event by Bradenton Beach Police, the party permit was revoked.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said last week's meeting focused on reshaping the various parking "pods" found within the park to allow better entry and exit for beachgoers to the parking lots. "It's like an empty canvas" for planners, he noted, with minimal expense needed to revise the guardrails and rope-and-bollard systems in the lots.

Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann has voiced concerns that as Manatee County's population, particularly in the east county area, continues to expand, use of Coquina Beach and other county facilities on Anna Maria Island will increase proportionally, along with accompanying concerns for public safety.

She noted there have been several recent incidents at Coquina Beach involving large, unpermitted parties, police confrontations and reports from some families visiting the beach on holidays that they did not feel "comfortable" during their stay because of boisterous crowds.

The issue of establishing paid parking as a security measure at Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach and Bayfront Park in Anna Maria could also be discussed, she has added, although Speciale said that topic did not come up at last week's session.