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Date of Issue: August 20, 2008

Bradenton Beach group questions Coquina plans

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Manatee County is proposing adding another playground area and two picnic shelters at Coquina Beach, but members of the Bradenton Beach ScenicWAVES Committee question whether that's the best investment at the public beach, which already has shelters and two playgrounds. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A Bradenton Beach advisory committee is questioning Manatee County’s plans to add a playground and two picnic shelters at Coquina Beach over other improvements.

The Bradenton Beach ScenicWAVES group reviewed the county project Aug. 11, and questioned whether there are better uses for the estimated $300,000 investment.

Manatee County wants to secure a $200,000 state recreational grant for the Coquina Beach project outlined in its capital improvements plan, said Maggie Marr, county grants coordinator.

Existing facilities at the county-operated Coquina Beach include concession buildings, two play areas, rest rooms, a bathhouse, several pavilions, parking, a paved multi-use trail, a fishing pier and a storage building.

Future plans call for two new pavilions, another playground, a public safety building, a multi-use trail on the bayside and expanded parking for boat trailers near the boat ramps.

The state grant the county wants to obtain can only be used for outdoor recreational projects and requires matching local funds.

Marr said the county decided to pursue funding for Coquina Beach “due to time constraints” - the county commission must sanction the grant application in September to meet a state deadline.

“If we are awarded funding, we’ll know one year from now,” Marr said.

She presented the project to the ScenicWAVES to help meet a grant application requirement of three public meetings on the issue.

“What I’m asking for is two picnic shelters and a playground,” Marr said, referring to the grant application.

However, the Bradenton Beach group raised a series of questions about whether shelters and a playground are top priorities for Coquina.

“I was just curious,” said Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor John Chappie, “why another playground?”

“Did people say we really need another playground and picnic shelter?” asked BeachHouse Restaurant owner Ed Chiles. “I thought the beach was the playground.”

Resort owner David Teitelbaum said, “What I’m seeing here is redundancy.”

Marr replied, “The parks and recreation department put in these requests.… The only thing in the CIP is two picnic shelters and the playground.”

However, the CIP could be amended and the plans changed, Marr said.

A motion made by Connie Drescher to ask the county to seek grant money to fund the east-side trail failed.

A motion made by Chiles to hold another meeting on the issue passed.

“I would like to see what all the things in the universe are possible,” Chiles said.

The meeting had not been scheduled by The Islander’s deadline Aug. 18 due to intervening plans for Tropical Storm Fay.