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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

MPO eyes Bridge Street Pier for water taxi

If the Manatee-Sarasota water-taxi idea ever hits the waves, a major transit point would likely be the Bradenton Beach City Pier at Bridge Street.

While there's a lot of work left before the water taxi ever becomes a reality, Bob Herrington of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization told members of the city's Corridor Management Entity Scenic Highway Committee April 13 that the pier would likely be a logical landing place for water taxis from the Crosley Mansion and the Holiday Inn marina on the mainland.

The MPO is funding a feasibility study of the proposal and "if it's a go" for the service and Bradenton Beach landing, the CME will be involved in a number of planning areas, he said.

The project does look favorable at this time, he observed.

Herrington said the MPO was hard pressed to find negatives to the proposal at a meeting two weeks ago of all interested parties.

"We asked for negatives," he said, and the only response was from the charter boat captains who wanted assurances business wouldn't be taken away from them by a water-taxi service.

Similar water-taxi services have been successful in Jacksonville and Ft. Lauderdale, Herrington noted.

CME members thought a water taxi transit point on the pier would be an economic boost to not just Bridge Street but the entire city.

In other CME business, Mayor John Chappie said an initial meeting with beachfront property owner Wendy Kokolis regarding a possible purchase of some of her property through a Florida Forever grant did not go well.

"We're trying to work something out," he said, but at this point, Kokolis does not want to do anything with the city.

Florida Forever is a grant program run by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that purchases private property for public recreational use.

CME member Scott Barr reviewed the city's proposed sign ordinance and presented comments on the use and placement of vacation rental signs in the city.

Barr and the CME would like to a reduction of vacation rental signs along State Road 789 (Gulf Drive). The CME asked Barr to review the entire ordinance and present some recommendations in writing at the next CME meeting.