It might be hard for some longtime Anna Maria Island residents to believe, but the three island cities finally have agreed on something, if only unofficially.
The agreement to have some form of paid parking in all three cities was arrived at May 21 during the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting, where Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino presented his broad view of paid permit-parking and invited comments.
“This is a brainstorming session. If nothing comes of this, at least we can say we tried. I realize we normally can’t agree on anything, but this is a serious issue,” he said.
Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti and Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon agreed with the concept.
SueLynn said it’s a “good point to start with that each city has permit parking of some form.”
Others at the meeting, including Anna Maria Commissioners Dale Woodland and Nancy Yetter, said they didn’t care if the Manatee County Tourist Development Council or the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau like the idea or not.
Yetter added she didn’t care what county commission thinks of the idea. “People need to realize there’s not enough parking space out here for everyone.”
She said the TDC could help fund a traffic and parking study that encompasses all three cities, but SueLynn wasn’t keen on that idea.
“I have no hopes the TDC will fund any study on the island, even if it’s to benefit tourism in the long run. I will have to beg them, please, help us keep our island and quality of life,” she said.
Zaccagnino said all the tourism promotion of the island by the TDC and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is killing the golden goose known as Anna Maria Island by bringing some unwanted visitors, especially from nearby counties.
“Just look at the license plates of cars. You’ll see a lot of plates from Florida counties other than Manatee,” he said.
Yetter agreed with Zaccagnino, saying that many problems are caused by “day-trippers who come from other counties.”
SueLynn also agreed. The majority of vehicles parked at Anna Maria locations on a weekend are from outside Manatee County, she said.
Zaccagnino said island cities have to pay for law enforcement for the thousands who come to the island for a day visit, trash pickup of all the garbage left by weekend visitors and maintain roads that were not built for such heavy use.
Anna Maria Commission Chair Chuck Webb said getting all three island cities to agree on something has “never happened before, but this has a commonality. I’m hopeful.”
Zaccagnino asked attendees to discuss the “broad view of some form of paid permit parking” at future city meetings.
“We have to do something together,” he said. “Maybe not every city has the same ordinance, but each ordinance should be similar.”
Members agreed the next meeting will be a work session devoted to the issue.
But paid parking is not the only area where the three island cities are being asked to agree.
SueLynn proposed all three cities contribute to fund a $125,000 study by the Urban Land Institute of Washington, D.C. and Hong Kong.
She said she talked to the ULI representative and he said studying just one island city would not make sense because of the inter-relationship of the municipalities. And the cost would be the same, regardless of how many cities participate.
SueLynn said TDC board member/Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen, who was unable to attend the BIEO meeting, has asked the TDC to fund the ULI study for the island. The mayor said Peelen told her she has not yet had a response.
Island cities also are being asked to agree to a common street-sweeping contract for State Road 789/Gulf Drive. Public works superintendents of all three cities are going to meet and draft a contract, Shearon said.
The next BIEO meeting will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.