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Date of Issue: May 10, 2007

Pines, piers, parks, oh my

Oh the tears, and oh the hard decisions.

Who envisioned so many more folks living on Anna Maria Island than used to in the 1950s-70s when it was developing AND who then thought so many people would come to enjoy our recreational opportunities?

Well, Holmes Beach has embarked on creating mini- parks, where previously only weeds and brush grew on rights of way and street ends. It’s a good thing - and no one seems to have complained about it, as happened recently in Anna Maria.

Parks? Who would be against a park? Only in AM, as we sometimes say, would folks complain that a passive park might detract from the ambiance of the city. After all, the state lauds - and helps fund - the purchase and development of open "green" space for everyone to enjoy.

What was proffered in Anna Maria - a small nature park on the beach - might have prevented misuse of vacant land by virtue of being public. We may never know, since handwringing overwhelmed the discussion.

Not in Holmes Beach, though, where beautification and more parks are embraced and appreciated.

Just as cutting some Australian pines and a planned program for replacement with more Florida-friendly trees is under way in Holmes Beach on Manatee Avenue and on the Palma Sola Causeway, pine-tree huggers are planning their assault on Anna Maria city hall.

It takes some "visioning," but eventually, we believe the skyline will be green with trees that don’t hamper native plants. Although graceful and tall, new native shade trees can be grown through a methodical trade-out of trees appropriate to the Island environment.

If we take-a-pine, plant-a-replacement, the vista of 10 and 20 years from now can be natural and grand.

Don’t whine for pines - yearn for a better canopy. The vision will grow over time.

But few issues on Anna Maria Island are tackled without pain and passion.

When storms from a passing hurricane damaged the city pier in Bradenton Beach and the restaurant closed, the city failed to act quickly and the facility deteriorated further.

More inaction drew out the future plans from one elected body to another, until only more indecision resulted. The pier closed to fishers as well.

Finally a plan was on the drawing board, but cost increases and alterations have resulted in cutbacks.

Now it’s sacrifice this for costs, cutback here and there, and soon it will just be a box on the dock.

We think the Bradenton Beach pier deserves to be a focal point - a jewel in the crown - and the subject of great pride, damn the costs. Build it right.

What do you think?

Respond at www.islander.org.