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Date of Issue: January 10, 2008

More parking to be reviewed in Bradenton Beach

Parking issues in the “downtown” area of Bradenton Beach are still under review, after about a year’s study and two consultants’ reports.

The suggestions offered by teams of citizens, residents, business owners and others will be further refined later this month and eventually presented to the city commission for action.

The parking morass came to a head in early 2007. Actually, parking has been a problem in the Bridge Street area and elsewhere in the city for more than a decade, but has been vocalized of late.

Groups of folks met and offered suggestions. And “demanded” may be a better term for how citizens directed city officials to pursue the matter.

After meetings, a planner was retained to facilitate meetings to further discuss the issue. That series of meetings led to the city to hire another consultant to come up with some “nuts and bolts” suggestions to add parking within the city.

The city was offered several options by both planning groups.

Transforming First Street and Third Street South into one-way avenues, with accompanying angle and parallel parking, was proffered.

A Bridge Street redesign, with some restructuring of streetscape to add parking spaces, was suggested.

Creation of a park-and-ride lot at north Coquina Beach at its bayfront was suggested as a space for employees to park to allow more visitors access to the downtown.

City parking lots were also a hot topic, especially the area around the police department and public works area off Highland.

After consultants got done with their review, it went to a dwindling number of residents and business folks late last August. That group came up with four parking arenas to address: First and Third Street South, via adding parking there; the employee parking issue, with designated spaces for Bridge Street employees to park and enhanced enforcement to entice such use; signage improvements, but not in a negative fashion but rather to encourage parking in less-high-traffic zones; and enhanced use of the Manatee County Trolley for residents and visitors.

Last Friday, the group decided that only the “trolley-up” program was the least controversial and the best proposal of the bunch for the dollars available. The concept combines the employee-parking suggestion as well, and at another meeting the group plans to further discuss the matter.

A key element of the joint plans would creation of a park-and-ride lot at north Coquina, and Manatee County Area Transit officials are expected to attend the 2 p.m. meeting Jan. 14 at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.