The street sign reads Church Street, but according to Manatee County traffic operations and emergency services and the U.S. Postal Service, it’s Church Avenue. Islander Photo: Mark Young
There is a saying in Christianity that asks, “Will the road you are on get you to my place?”
If you are on Church Street in Bradenton Beach, it will indeed take a traveler to Harvey Memorial Community Church, but the listed address for the church and several residences isn’t Church Street.
It’s Church Avenue, according to Google Maps, Manatee County Traffic Operations and Manatee County Emergency Services.
However, according to the city of Bradenton Beach, it’s Church Street, although it is the only road in the city that runs north and south to be named a street instead of avenue, said Bradenton Beach public works director Tom Woodard.
Woodard, who was with the county’s traffic operations for 15 years before coming to the city to work in 2004, said the city’s streets run east to west while avenues run north to south.
“It’s just the opposite from the county,” said Woodard. “One of the first things I did when I came to work for the city is drive around to familiarize myself with the streets and that’s when I noticed the Church Street sign was wrong.”
Woodard took it upon himself to change the sign, replacing it with one that read Church Avenue, but was ordered in 2005 by former Mayor John Chappie, now a county commissioner, to change it back to Church Street.
The longstanding issue of whether it is a street or avenue arose for the first time in many years during the Dec. 6 city commission meeting. Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said he was approached by a constituent regarding the street name.
“It’s actually Church Avenue,” said Gatehouse. “Obviously, the street sign is wrong.”
Woodard told The Islander it’s not necessarily a law that requires Church Street to be Church Avenue, “it’s just that the city should have some continuity for emergency services. But, there has never been an issue with an emergency or the mail that I am aware of, everyone knows it as Church Street.”
While Woodard agrees that Church Street is incorrect, he told commissioners Dec. 6 that he would change it to Church Avenue or leave it as Church Street at their discretion.
Commissioners had a brief discussion on the topic and it appeared the consensus would be to have Woodard change the sign to Church Avenue.
But Mayor John Shaughnessy said everyone knows it to be Church Street and that it should be left alone.
Commissioners ultimately agreed with the mayor and Church Avenue will remain Church Street on the sign.