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Free park enhancements offered to Anna Maria

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Commissioner Gene Aubry was approached by a “constituent” who requested anonymity and wanted to look at one of several plans drawn by Aubry for a park on the city’s six lots on Pine Avenue.

That constituent picked out one plan and, according to Aubry, who recounted his meeting at a Jan. 24 commission meeting, said, “This is the one.”

Aubry said the constituent then offered to pay for all plants, benches, sidewalks and lighting if the commission approved the plan.

The plan provides for parking around the perimeter of the area, and Commissioner Chuck Webb said he liked everything about the plan except the parking.

Chair John Quam said discussion of the item was not on the meeting agenda, and he preferred to defer it to the Feb. 14 meeting.

Webb said it would be nice if the anonymous donor would come forward with his reasons.

“OK,” said Aubry, “but we’re being offered a free park, and we’re going to need those parking spaces. The constituent said he was tired of the commission rejecting every plan for the six lots, so he said ‘let me pay for it.’”

The city would only have to provide maintenance, Aubry said, and even that might be covered by the donor.

In other business, commissioners then approved Mayor SueLynn’s nomination of Mike Coleman to the planning and zoning board, although there was some disagreement about the nomination because of Coleman’s business interests. He is a principal in the Pine Avenue development by Pine Avenue Restorations.

Commissioner Chuck Webb reminded commissioners the P&Z board is only a recommending body to the commission. “I’m fine with his expertise and they’re not passing laws, just recommendations,” Webb said.

He said Coleman should abstain from voting on any issue in which he would have a financial interest.

The nomination was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Dale Woodland dissenting.

Commissioners were expected to deal with a requested easement swap between the city and the Sandbar Restaurant at the meeting, but agreed to continue the hearing to Feb. 14 due to the absence of engineer Lynn Burnett, who represents the Sandbar.

The planning and zoning board has recommended the city deny the easement exchange.

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