A call for halting illegal transactions and removing unapproved advertising consumed much of the April 4 joint meeting of scenic highway committees in Sarasota.
The Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity, along with scenic highway counterparts in Bradenton Beach and the Tamiami Trail, called for a crackdown on illegal bench advertising and vendors improperly accepting payments at locations on the trail.
Advertising has been regulated since 1971, according to Ingrid McClellan, Keep Manatee Beautiful executive director emeritus.
She said benches with ads should be removed from the 4.5-mile Palma Sola Scenic Highway from 75th Street West to the drawbridge to Holmes Beach.
Advertising is not banned, but it is limited along state scenic highways, according to McClellan.
A letter from McClellan requesting enforcement was approved at the joint session to be sent to Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan.
“Palma Sola Scenic Highway is on a beautiful city waterfront,” according to the letter. “The CME believes these benches are not located to the public benefit.”
The letter also asks for vendors — people and companies selling goods and services — to be cited for illegally accepting payments along the rights of way on the Palma Sola Scenic Highway.
It’s uncertain what effect the letter will have.
Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston weighed in on the proliferation of advertising benches on city rights of way between 75th Street, Bradenton, and the Anna Maria Island Bridge on Perico Island, the gateway to Holmes Beach.
Poston said that before he took office, a former mayor locked the city into a contract with the advertising company.
“Mayor Bill Evers signed a contract with the bench company that is forever,” Poston wrote in an email to The Islander. “I have been trying to break the contract for 10 years or so and haven’t been able to win. We have included state legislative lawyers and they say we are out of luck.”
As to the vendor transactions, they can legally accept payments through online transactions, but not on the rights of way, McClellan’s letter explained.
McClellan told The Islander she would continue looking into advertising prohibitions in the state legislation for scenic highways.
In other action:
Holmes Beach building official Jim McGuinness reported progress on $108,531 in Grassy Point Preserve parking improvements is bogged down while waiting for the estate of the late Billie Martini to complete a promised bequest.
In addition to parking, improvements include a kayak trail to the water, signage and a nature walk extension, McGuinness said.
Martini spearheaded development of the 34-acre Grassy Point Preserve in Holmes Beach, which reopened April 19, 2017.
“For those of you who haven’t been there yet, I strongly recommend you come visit it,” McGuinness said. “Wait until after spring break.”
Also, McGuinness said the 1.5-mile Palma Sola CME corridor extension through Holmes Beach will soon go before the city commission.
The Palma Sola CME wants the state to extend the scenic highway from the Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach to the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway.
The Palma Sola Scenic Highway now encompasses State Road 64 West/Manatee Avenue West from East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach to 75th Street West in Bradenton.
The scenic highway extension would run from the boat ramp to East Bay Drive, where it would run south to the merger with Gulf Drive at 27th Street North.
The Palma Sola Scenic Highway CME will next meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Bradenton Public Works, 114 Ninth St. W.