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HB parks committee wants beach access involvement

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification committee is getting back to business with its second meeting since its summer break. It also now now has two city commission liaisons — possibly.

City commissioners voted on appointments to various committees and entities at their Nov. 19 meeting, at which time, based on the recommendation of Mayor Carmel Monti, Commissioner David Zaccagnino was eliminated from the beautification committee and replaced by Commissioner Marvin Grossman.

Zaccagnino protested at that meeting and later sent an email to the committee saying he would not attend its Dec. 4 meeting.

“Politics has reared its ugly head again and the mayor has dismissed me from this committee,” Zaccagnino wrote. “At the last commission meeting, I fought very hard to stay on, but it’s apparent that Marvin Grossman has more pull with the mayor and he will be your new liaison.”

Zaccagnino has been a liaison or member of the committee for 10 years and touted in his email the committee’s accomplishments, including the redevelopment of Kingfish Boat Ramp, memorial tree program, increasing tree canopy in the city, becoming a member of Tree City USA and more.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, Zaccagnino said the committee would not like his dismissal. He was partially right.

Committee chair Melissa Snyder said she had a conversation with Monti before the commission vote on liaison assignments, expressing frustration over Zaccagnino missing four meetings.

However, Snyder did not want Zaccagnino removed from the committee and upon finding out what the commission did, requested that he remain as liaison. Monti approved her request, but Grossman also will remain involved. He attended the Dec. 4 meeting and addressed the committee on beach accesses.

The city has been contemplating how to enhance beach accesses. Monti and building official Tom O’Brien have presented some ideas at various meetings that include beach access shelters, which have drawn criticism from residents who oppose shelters.

Those opposing say shelters detract from the natural environment and draw homeless people looking for a place to sleep or teenagers looking for a place to drink alcohol.

City officials have maintained that discussions are in the idea phase. Nothing official has been presented to the commission, but O’Brien is working on a presentation.

Grossman said the parks and beautification committee can get involved by presenting landscaping ideas to the commission. Grossman, who opposes shelters, said landscaping and benches are better solutions.

He has been involved with the dog park and has touted it as a place for dogs to play and people to socialize. He would like to see a similar environment created at the beach accesses.

“One of the things on my list to get involved with before I was elected was the dog park and the reason is that besides being a park, it’s a social event,” said Grossman.

He said it’s rare to see citizens anywhere talking with one another other than at the dog park.

“It’s an important community aspect,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to get together and I believe the beach accesses present another opportunity to do the same.”

Grossman said he is considering organizing sunset meetings at specific beach access points as a social function.

Snyder said those sites need to be identified and then a targeted landscape project can be determined to beautify the areas.

She agreed to accompany Grossman on a tour of the sites and bring some ideas back to the committee at its Jan. 8 meeting.

In other matters, the committee took issue with a lack of action on the city’s part for projects already approved by members.

Snyder said bushes were supposed to be planted at the 79th Street trolley stop, “but nothing has been done.”

She also said bollards were recommended to be placed near the entrance of the Grassy Point Preserve to prevent people from driving cars on the trail.

“It was recommended by Manatee County to put those bollards there and public works still hasn’t done it,” said Snyder.

Committee member Bob Longworth said the red cedar tree planted on Marina Drive and 77th Street in April is still wrapped in ropes.

“It is still tied up,” he said. “It needs to have some weed eating done around it and trim it up. It looks like hell.”

Committee member Jerry West said it won’t do anyone any good to criticize public works.

“Public works is doing a good job overall,” said West. “I think they are overworked. Maintenance is something we should look at and set up some priorities.”

Snyder said she wasn’t trying to criticize public works and acknowledged that committee members look for specific things that workers probably don’t see on a daily basis.

In other matters, the committee agreed to make a recommendation to remove the vegetation around a sculpture at the entrance to the Key Royale subdivision.

Snyder said it should be replaced with ground cover landscaping to prevent the vegetation from overtaking and covering the sculpture.

The committee also agreed to approach the city to suggest updating its Christmas decorations for next year, citing some that were “outdated and faded.”

Snyder also resurrected a community garden idea discussed in 2012, but never moved forward.

A community garden would give residents a chance to take part in a larger garden to grow vegetables of their choice.

Anna Maria has something similar, but use planter boxes. Snyder is against that idea and favors what the Annie Silver Community Center, in Bradenton Beach, has done by using land to section off garden plots.

Snyder said she would like to use a plot of land outside the small dog park and baseball field. She wants to move the idea forward, but said it would depend on community involvement. She asked interested people to email her at melspond@aol.com.

Longworth said Holmes Beach “already has chickens running around. We might as well have a community garden.”

West disagreed, saying such the topic is not appropriate for the parks and beautification committee and should be taken up by local garden clubs.

The committee also discussed what to do about its annual education seminar.

Snyder suggested educating residents and visitors on the city’s many pocket parks, where small stretches of land have been dedicated as mini parks.

West said there are as many as 10 in the city and many are coming into their own as far as beautification. He suggested the committee members come up with a few ideas and present them at the next meeting, which is at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

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