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Date of Issue: July 15, 2009

Scenic highway extension sought

A group tasked with steering improvements to the Palma Sola Scenic Highway wants to extend the drive to include a stretch of road in Holmes Beach that runs to the Bradenton Beach border.

Currently the Palma Sola scenic route is Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 from 75th Street in Bradenton to East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach.

Earlier this year, the Holmes Beach City Commission authorized city public works superintendent Joe Duennes to draft a letter to the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity supporting the extension of the scenic route on Manatee Avenue to the Manatee Public Beach.

During a meeting July 8 in Bradenton, the Palma Sola committee unanimously agreed to request that the Holmes Beach commission also consider extending the scenic route from Manatee Avenue west on State Road 789 to the Bradenton Beach city line, where another scenic route already runs through that city.

Cortez resident and committee member Jane von Hahmann suggested the extension.

 “The gap we are trying to fill is in Holmes Beach,” she said, adding that the extension amounts to about .8 of a mile. “I really think we need a whole thing.”

Duennes, who serves on the Palma Sola committee, said he would raise the question with his city commission, possibly as early as this week.

If Holmes Beach commissioners support the extension to Bradenton Beach, the Palma Sola committee would draft a letter to the Florida Scenic Highway Program advisory committee under the Florida Department of Transportation.

“It’s a very easy process, adding to an existing scenic highway,” said Bob Herrington, a technical advisor to the Palma Sola group from the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

In other business, the Palma Sola committee unanimously approved an update of its corridor-management plan and agreed to recognize at a future meeting former committee chair Ingrid McClellan of Keep Manatee Beautiful.

Von Hahmann, a former county commissioner, said improvements along the scenic highway in recent years “would not have happened without Ingrid.… She really helped us to get where we are.”

The committee also agreed to invite other local scenic highway groups in a bid to host a 2010 scenic highway conference.

The next Palma Sola committee meeting will take place Sept. 9 at the Manatee County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

During that meeting, the committee plans to work on its annual report, as well as meet with representatives of the state scenic highway program.