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Date of Issue: April 20, 2006

Parks and beautification committee to meet again

Customarily, the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee adjourns for the season following its April meeting. However, members agreed they currently have too many open projects and so they will meet again in May.

During its April meeting, the committee reviewed the success of its recent landscape forum on the effects of fertilizers and pesticides on water quality. Of the surveys handed out at the forum, approximately 50 percent were completed. Results show that the majority of attendees were from Holmes Beach, and a few came from Ellenton and Sarasota.

Most said they came to the forum to learn about Florida-friendly landscapes or because of an interest in native beach plants. Based on survey responses, the committee is considering either flowering saltwater tolerant plants or xeriscaping as future forum topics.

The committee was surprised to learn that only two survey respondents voiced an interest in learning about red tide.

Committee members also discussed their vision for "reforesting" the Island — replacing trees that have been removed with trees donated as living memorials. The committee would like to start a program in which individuals or businesses could purchase a 12- to 15-foot-tall tree to be dedicated and planted on public land.

The committee is interested in having more viable trees planted in place of mature trees that have been removed for one reason or another.

Due to the expense, committee members agreed to forgo a plan that would see mature trees donated by other property owners transplanted to areas where they may be needed. Instead, they will seek the city commission's support in matching funds of up to $1,000 with individuals interested in purchasing a new "dedicated" tree.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore, who oversees the committee, gave the concept her support and asked the committee to solidify an action plan.

Whitmore attended the meeting to update members on the status of the city's cooperation with the Anna Maria Island Community Center during the Center's anticipated rebuild.

Whitmore told the committee she has asked the city's public works department to make room for the Center's teen program in the building adjacent to the skateboard park. There are presently 25 kids regularly participating in those weekly gatherings. Whitmore said the proximity to the skate park, where many teens congregate, is ideal.

The public works building may also provide a quiet location for the Center's counseling services, she said.

As for the city's recreational areas, Whitmore reported that the the basketball court hoops are up. Bids are currently out for fencing three sides of the court and the city expects to obtain bids on striping the court.

Whitmore said the Hagan Foundation has donated $8,000 for the basketball court, and $2,000 for a picnic area. The city plans to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony in appreciation of the ongoing support the Hagan family provides for Island kids. "Even though they don't live in Holmes Beach anymore, they still give $10,000 a year to our kids," said Whitmore.

And, she added, the city's recreational fields are seeing a lot of action. Whitmore said she has seen people playing basketball, soccer and tennis and even some folks practicing their golf swing on city grounds.

Holmes Beach Public Works Superintendent Joe Duennes reported that the four trolley shelters allotted in the current city budget are either in progress or finished. The shelters can withstand 140-mph winds.

The next committee event will be a tree planting in celebration of Arbor Day, the plans of which are still being finalized.

The next committee meeting will be held at 5 p.m. May 1 at city hall.