It is now Church Avenue, not Church Street, officially in Bradenton Beach. Islander File Photo: Mark Young
No one seems to remember when a Church Avenue sign at the intersection of Second Street North in Bradenton Beach was changed to Church Street.
Church Avenue has three intersections, but the Second Street North intersection is the only one that reads Church Street. It’s been that way as long as anyone can remember, which is why on Dec. 6 city commissioners opted not to take a vote to change it to Church Avenue.
It’s listed as Church Avenue by the Manatee County emergency system, U.S. Postal Service and even Google maps. Residents of Church Avenue, named after Harvey Memorial Church, have been complaining to the city since late last year to change it from Church Street to Church Avenue.
Church Avenue resident Michael Harrington sent a formal request to the city to have the sign changed and spoke at the Jan. 17 commission meeting.
“It is incorrect,” said Harrington. “I have spoken to many residents and they agree it needs to be changed back.”
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse brought the subject up at the Dec. 6 meeting and commissioners initially provided a consensus to have it changed to Church Avenue.
But during the course of discussion, commissioners changed their mind, saying everyone knows it as Church Street.
Gatehouse submitted an agenda item request to bring the matter up for an official vote for the Jan. 17 meeting.
“As you know, a couple of meetings ago, I brought up the issue of the sign on Church Avenue and Second Street North. The sign is in error, as per every agency I had public works director Tom Woodard check with,” he said.
Gatehouse said the commission’s reversal on the Dec. 6 consensus was based on an opinion provided by a person who has not worked for the city in years that there may be public opposition to changing the sign.
“Not only does every agency we’ve talked to have it as Church Avenue, so does Bradenton Beach,” he said.
Gatehouse motioned to have the sign changed, but during discussion, Vice Mayor Ed Straight disagreed with Gatehouse’s assessment that Bradenton Beach considers it Church Avenue.
“It’s Church Street on my map,” he said. “I don’t know if it was ever changed. My argument is that named streets can be called anything you want. As far as I’m concerned, just leave it that way.”
Gatehouse said he was suggesting a name correction, not a name change.
“People can still call it Church Street if they want,” he said. “They can call it Interstate Church if they like. Right now, it looks silly because two of the streets are named Church Avenue. The whole thing makes us look silly.”
Commissioner Gay Breuler seconded Gatehouse’s motion, which passed 4-1 to authorize Woodard to change the sign to Church Avenue. Straight was the dissenting vote.
The Jan. 17 meeting started with Mayor John Shaughnessy thanking commissioners and city staff for the hard work they do and going “above and beyond” by working within the community whether it be for the city or charity.
In other matters, citizens continue to complain about noise coming from Bridge Street businesses at night.
The city is in progress of reviewing its noise ordinance and Shaughnessy reminded citizens that “we are working on it.”
He said citizens need to do more than just call police to complain about the noise.
“When you do have a complaint, file it with the police department so we have a paper trail,” he said. “We are working the noise ordinance, but it’s a very touchy thing. We want it, but we want to do it right.”
Shaughnessy said he is working with Police Chief Sam Speciale and city planner Alan Garrett. Commissioners also plan to hold work sessions in the coming weeks.
In attorney business, Ricinda Perry announced that a contract with ZNS Engineering, the firm hired for the Historic Bridge Street Pier reconstruction project, should be presented at the Feb. 4 meeting.
Perry also announced that she is finalizing details of a contract that would secure the services of Rusty “Lawrence” Monroe, of Municipal Solutions, to review cell tower applications.
The announcement is a change in direction from previous meetings where Gatehouse wished to put distance between the city and Monroe, and emails from Monroe, who wrote he no longer wished to do business with Bradenton Beach.
Tensions rose when Gatehouse questioned the city’s cell tower ordinance that financially benefitted Monroe. Gatehouse said he would attempt to have the ordinance repealed or, at least amended, but that effort never came to fruition.
Gatehouse had cited where Monroe’s ordinance was challenged in the courts in other states, but Monroe insisted in that example that the city had gone against his advice.