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AM commissioner quells critic, park plan moves forward

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

At the April 25 Anna Maria Commission meeting, Commissioner Gene Aubry responded to a letter he received in mid-April that was critical of his design — presented April 11 — to add live oak trees, parking and public restrooms to the city’s vacant land at Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

Aubry also said the letter contained “some not very nice things” about him. He also reported that the writer claimed people have to sleep in Anna Maria with one eye open as the commission takes the action it wants.

The writer of the letter said Aubry was ignoring the wishes of the city with his plan.

Aubry’s rendering was in response to a commission request to see how the lots would look with some parking and restrooms surrounded by live oak trees. The trees are being donated by resident Rex Hagen, who first asked to remain anonymous, then came forward.

Aubry noted the commission took no action April 11.

Commissioners eventually voted 3-2 at the April 25 meeting for a modified plan that eliminates the restrooms and has angled parking for about 15-19 cars along North Bay Boulevard where cars now park parallel opposite the pier parking lot along the road.

Aubry told commissioners before voting that if they didn’t like what he drew, they could “throw it in the trash can” and it “wouldn’t hurt my feelings.”

Aubry and Commissioner Chuck Webb voted against the modified plan, with Commissioners John Quam, Nancy Yetter and Dale Woodland voting for it.

Before voting, Aubry quashed a rumor he said he’d heard around the city that he and some other commissioners wanted people to urinate in public places to draw support for public restrooms at the proposed park.

Aubry said the gossip was ridiculous.

Aubry, a licensed architect, has been asked on several occasions the past five years by the city to draw plans and renderings of buildings, projects and Pine Avenue parking proposals.

Some of the past requests were made when Aubry was not a commissioner, and he continues to volunteer his services when asked. He has not been compensated by the city for his planning or design services.

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