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BB to clear last hurdle for gateway beautification

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

A sign welcomes visitors to Bradenton Beach at the intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road, one of three gateways into the city, as well as onto a Florida Scenic Highway, but the area is not much to look at — for now. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Beautification plans for the city’s gateway at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive may soon be finalized, if one last hurdle is cleared, according to email communications from Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler,

Visitors entering the city from Cortez Road are provided a view of the Gulf of Mexico as they approach the stoplight to turn either left or right, but gazing eyes are first met with a view of vacant property that is less attractive than the city deserves, according to prior comments from Breuler.

Breuler secured the release of $500 from the Scenic Waves Partnership Committee in September that had been reserved for a gateway landscaping project to coincide with the city’s efforts to improve the gateway with new welcome signs.

That was two years ago, however, and since then the city hit obstacles in an effort to have the new signs posted at the Cortez Road gateway.

The city also has contended with the possibility of the Florida Department of Transportation constructing sidewalks on the west side of Gulf Drive, but Breuler said in September that sidewalks could be in the distant future and, if needed, plants could be relocated when and if a sidewalk project begins.

She has since expressed an interest to the commission to move forward with the beautification design, and at a Nov. 21 capital improvement projects meeting, landscaper Ann Hall spoke to commissioners about proceeding.

Breuler was absent with excuse from the Nov. 21 meeting, but Hall said she was asked by Breuler to provide an overview of the landscape plans. She told commissioners that the landscaping would be native plants.

In a Dec. 18 email to Hall, Breuler said she met with board members of three nearby condominiums, who expressed an interest in seeing the beautification plans move forward, but they would like to provide input, as some of the plants would be placed on condo properties.

“All would like to see the plantings plan before giving their recommendations and I have told them that we would have them by the first of the year, as we have had discussed at our preliminary meeting at the site,” Breuler wrote. “So, we are making sound progress on this project and I am very excited.”

Breuler asked that Hall and landscape designer Mike Miller get together to work on the plan and have it completed by the first of the year.

“After each condominium board contact has had the opportunity to review the plan, we will then schedule a presentation meeting the first week of the new year to answer any questions, concerns, etc., before receiving the go-ahead,” she wrote.

At least one condominium board member had questions. In a Dec. 20 email to Breuler from Barbara Hug, a resident at Imperial House, Hug wanted to know who would maintain the landscaping, and if the condo board had rights to remove what gets planted on their property.

As an example, Hug pointed to dead palm trees on a nearby property.

Breuler said the condos would retain its property rights and could remove the plants if so desired. She also assured Hug that the city would maintain the native plants until they could flourish on their own.

Breuler said the dead palms belong to a different condo association, but with the approval of the city commission, she would have them removed by the city’s public works department.

Hug told Breuler that if the plans were ready by Jan. 8, she would present them to the Imperial House board.

“This needs to be run by all the owners,” she said.

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