Grant request for East Bay Drive project denied
Holmes Beach ranked No. 2 in a recent review for federal money, putting it out of the running for a grant to spruce up East Bay Drive, a main commercial corridor in the city.
The grant request was made through the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, which had $600,000 in federal funds for fiscal 2012-13 to divide between Manatee and Sarasota counties. Five grant requests were submitted from Manatee County jurisdictions and seven from Sarasota County governments, said MPO executive director Michael Howe.
“We had $300,000 for each county,” Howe said, adding that the federal grant program was created to help pay for the “softer side of transportation,” such as bike paths, pedestrian walks and beautification.
While the Holmes Beach project did not receive funding, the No. 1 project will provide for Island-related improvements. Manatee County’s application for $300,000 was approved for beautification at the Neal Preserve on Perico Island at the south side of Manatee Avenue and to the east of the Anna Maria Island Bridge. The Neal project calls for a meandering path and boardwalk in the preserve.
With a No. 2 ranking, Holmes Beach stands a good chance of winning a grant next year for fiscal 2013-14, Howe said, noting that a future application would automatically gain a point for “perseverance.”
“It’s a great project,” said Howe. “I encourage Holmes Beach to reapply next year. They’ll be in a good position next year unless something comes in that knocks the socks off.”
Holmes Beach public works superintendent Joe Duennes said he definitely would like to try again.
The city commissioners endorsed the grant quest earlier this summer, saying they wanted to improve East Bay Drive between 31st Street and Manatee Avenue, as well as at the intersections of Gulf Drive and Manatee.
The work had been on the city’s wish list for more than a year. A grant application last year also was denied.
The city’s beautification plans called for two trolley shelters, 520 linear feet of sidewalk and landscaping at a cost of $169,800.
In a breakdown of the cost, $135,000 would have been invested in landscaping, $14,500 in the shelters, $14,300 for the sidewalk and $6,000 for permitting and other administrative costs.
The landscaping was to be extensive - 128 foxtail palms, 12 live oaks, 18 Alexander palms, 20 crape myrtles, 150 sand cordgrass plants, 282 beach sunflowers and about 125 cubic yards of recycled mulch. The foxtail palms and wild sunflowers would have lined East Bay Drive northward from 31st Street. Plans also showed sidewalks on both sides of East Bay Drive, on the outside of the proposed tree line.