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Anna Maria discusses toll, paid parking

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Maria commissioners unanimously agreed Aug. 15 that some form of paid parking must be established to control the number of day visitors driving into the city.

What they could not agree on was how to implement a plan that exempts residents and long-term visitors.

Mayor SueLynn, however, said she and city staff have been discussing such a plan. She said she would prepare a draft of her plan and have Commission Chair Chuck Webb schedule a work session when it’s ready.

Commissioners received information on paid parking from city resident Bob Inserra, who is a park ranger at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County. Inserra maintains the park’s five paid parking kiosks.

“Since we established paid parking, we’ve eliminated the joy-riders, the people who just wanted to cruise through the park and throw their garbage anywhere,” Inserra said.

“These machines are used all over the world for paid parking,” Inserra said. “You can buy as much time as you want.”

Inserra said the machines — kiosks — can easily be moved and, because they operate on solar power, can be implemented just about anywhere. Fort DeSoto Park’s machines handle several thousand cars on holidays and weekends.

Commissioner Gene Aubry said parking kiosks also worked well in Galveston, Texas, where he lived before moving to Anna Maria Island.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said the idea had some merit, but he wanted to keep any paid parking plan as simple as possible.

“We never had this parking problem before the influx of day visitors. It’s only been in the last few years that we’ve seen cars parked everywhere,” he said.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb suggested hiring part-time employees to work weekends and holidays to sell parking passes at beach access locations.

Aubry, however, was concerned with limiting parking on rights of way. He suggested a booth at the Gulf Drive entrance to the city from Holmes Beach, where day visitors would be required to purchase a parking pass before entering the city.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said that could create “major congestion” on Gulf Drive, particularly on weekends and holidays. Residents and vacation renters with parking permits in hand would be stuck in line waiting for others to purchase a permit.

“The problem is getting parking passes to the day visitors without causing congestion,” he said.

Mayor SueLynn said she and staff have discussed a plan where “every property owner gets a permit to park on their property and anywhere in the city. A landlord would get one permit per property to give to a rental person,” she said.

Copeland said it was obvious to him from the ensuing discussion that “this is going to be an involved process and take some time. Is there anything we can do now?” he asked.

The mayor said commissioners could pass an ordinance allowing illegally parked vehicles to be towed and increase the parking fine.

“We could do that in a few weeks while we work on a long-term parking plan,” she said.

SueLynn said she and staff would prepare a draft of a paid parking plan and bring it back in a few weeks to commissioners.

“Some of you are not going to like parts of the plan, but at least it’s a start,” the mayor said.

9 Responses to Anna Maria discusses toll, paid parking

  1. Greg Batson says:

    Control the number of day visitors? C’mon, you are getting just what you asked for with your recent over-advertising and over-selling. For many years, my family and I day trip there often, and stay a week each year at a rental. Please don’t force vacationers to pay for parking – regardless of how many cars they have in one unit – all should park anywhere for free. This whole paid parking idea sounds like a bunch of arrogant, money-hungry people trying to control what is actually a free, public area and should stay that way. Your city is making millions $ – use it to pay for proper signage and law enforcement to ticket illegally parked cars. Residents must adapt – just like everyone else where we face overcrowding. I suggest you visit Clearwater Beach to see how it has been ruined with big-time planning toward greed. Keep AMI a quaint, for-the-public area that we have learned to love. The sign at the Holmes Beach parking lot entrance says “public”. Not private. Keep it that way. Also, not that police patrols should continually monitor and immediately fine or arrest anyone defacing property, littering, or causing a disturbance. You cannot replace human involvement with automation. Paid parking will NOT solve the problems you have quoted – no, not one of them.

  2. Ben says:

    Mayor SueLynn said she and staff have discussed a plan where “every property owner gets a permit to park on their property and anywhere in the city. Sounds like one will need a permit to park on their own property. How ridiculous. The over-regulators are at it again.

  3. Tim Johnson says:

    So once again you are going to punish the many because of the antics of a few? Not fair!!
    I am a mainlander living in Bradenton who has been visiting your island since the late seventies! I fish at the Pier, swim in the Gulf, and don’t bother anybody! So now you want me to pay? Once again I say, not bloody fair!!

  4. Mermaiden says:

    Our family lives here, and my sentiments echo the rest of the comments posted here. Another thing that is a MUST: REPLACE THE FISHING PIER AT MANATEE PUBLIC BEACH. I’m sick of people casting in my face while trying to swim.

  5. Ellis hartman says:

    I bet the Sandbar and other business in the area will not like the idea that customers will have to pay to either enter the area, or park. Do you not think that that will effect their business?

  6. Miranda from Minnesota says:

    Indeed, what can we expect after the push to advertise Anna Maria Island the past several years? Didn’t we think the people would come? In cars? By the hundreds? From all over the place? Most all of us are from somewhere else! But now lovely Anna Maria is busting at the seams. But again, what did we expect? And indeed it keeps a lot of people busy hoping to settle the issues, makes a lot of money for a lot of people, but at what cost we must ask. In the end, what does one do with the monsters one creates?

  7. What a wonderful idea.Sue Lynn is the best mayor ever elected. She feels the pulse of the community. We can charge people when they come into OUR city. Tow them if they don’t have a sticker or pay for their parking. The hotels (er Resorts) will have to pay for the twelve cars that they bring in for the week. We see them on hotel property without a sticker.., tow them. the police have nothing else to do put two or three of them in wreckers with a city impound lot. We won’t have to worry about getting federal and state funds or beach re nourishment or for the roads. It is our city we were here first leave if you don’t like it. the only other alternative is a gate. Or requiring people to pay to cross the bridge. See we want the same thing Sanibel has.

  8. James says:

    As an annual vacationer from the UK i have to tell you that we are used to paid parking in most of our resorts, but we continually see the parking charges increasing year on year. Private residences don’t have to park on their own land and I don’t understand the reasoning behind parking permits for private residences especially when they park off road. If the residence only has one Parking permit this would be an issue and we always vacationa s a family, generally with two vehicles. It is a big financial outlay vacationing on Anna Maria without the additional burden of perhaps for example another $100 or so for two weeks parking permits.This makes a big decision when deciding to go on vacation in th UK, and what shops to park by and visit. My wife like shopping and would like to support local traders rather than go to outlets off the island. I hope that some considerable thought is taken when reviewing the options and the right decision is made for the council, traders and visitors alike.

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