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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Bradenton Beach Christmas bonus

Susan King of the Florida Department of Transportation's Community Affairs office in Bartow managed to spread some Christmas good cheer at the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Committee Corridor Management Entity meeting Dec. 8.

That's because King announced that the DOT had approved an application she had made on behalf of the city for $300,000 in DOT enhancement funds. The money is not a matching grant, King said, and the CME can basically use it any way it wants to beautify Gulf Drive. That includes using some or all of the money to complete the multi-use path that the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department is undertaking.

King said $40,000 for project design will be available July 1, 2005, while $260,000 for construction funds would become available July 1, 2006.

And that $300,000 is in addition to another $300,000 the city already has coming from DOT in the same budget cycle for bike paths and pedestrian safety improvements.

"Plus, there's another $20,000 in landscaping funds" available from the DOT, said Mayor John Chappie.

"We're in pretty good shape to make this city look nice," he added, but cautioned the committee not to rush into a recommendation right away to use the extra money.

The $300,000 bonus was welcome news to Mike Sosadeeter of the county parks and recreation department.

Two weeks ago, Sosadeeter and parks and recreation department supervisor Cindy Turner had to tell the CME that the grant for the multi-use path would only cover about one mile of the proposed mile-and-a-half path on the west side of Gulf Drive through Coquina Beach.

"I suggest you could use some of these funds to complete the west side," noted King.

Sosadeeter said it's up to the CME what it wants to do with the DOT funds, but the county has only enough money right now to complete a mile of the project.

In other CME business, Bob Herrington of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization presented the first draft of the water-taxi feasibility study. He emphasized to the CME that this is "only the first draft" and a number of changes are likely.

But the initial draft does consider a water taxi to be feasible from two locations.

One taxi would come from downtown Bradenton along the Manatee River, stopping at each of the three Island cities, while another taxi would operate from Sarasota to Longboat Key, St. Armands and Siesta Key. A water taxi from Venice to Englewood is also a possibility, the study noted.

Sarasota and Manatee "appear to be a natural choice for a waterborne transportation system," the study said. "The diversity of function and location among these markets represents the potential of the water-taxi service. The service could be used both for work commutes and for tourist or recreational trips by the many visitors to the beaches, shopping areas, and parks in the region," concluded the study.