Commission opts for park plan for Bay-Pine lots

Anna Maria commissioners settled on a preliminary park design for the city-owned lots at the east end of Pine Avenue that former Commissioner Gene Aubry presented several months ago.

The issue, as it always seems to be in Anna Maria, is parking.

Commissioners July 12 agreed native trees and plants should surround the lots, with open space in the middle. There also should be walking space and benches.

But they were divided on whether to allow parking along North Bay Boulevard.

They agreed there should be no parking on the Pine Avenue side of the lots, but Commissioner John Quam said the city needs the existing 11 parking spaces on Bay Boulevard.

While Commissioner SueLynn wanted no parking on Bay Boulevard, Commission Chair Chuck Webb said the existing spaces are in the right of way, not on the vacant lots.

“I see the problem, but I’m not ready to cut (the parking spaces) off. If the rest of the commission says remove Bay Boulevard parking, I’m OK with that,” said Webb.

Commissioners agreed to close the parking lot, although it was allowed throughout the winter-spring season.

Commissioners were against rest rooms on the lots, but may consider a gazebo or open-air pavilion.

City attorney Jim Dye said he would write a resolution for the commission in consultation with Aubry.

Commissioners agreed, but left out any decision on Pine Avenue parking.

“The next step is to come up with cost estimates,” said Webb, who is plans to ask the Manatee County Tourism Development Council for funding for improvements on the six lots from resort tax money.

Efforts to use resort tax funds for such purposes have consistently been denied by the county legal staff because the funds are for dedicated purposes, not general tourism.

Dye reminded commissioners the lots are zoned retail-office-residential. The city will need a comp-plan amendment to change the zoning to public, semi-public and to create a park.

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