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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

No electric cars as yet for Bradenton Beach

OK, so perhaps electric cars aren't such a good idea for Bradenton Beach's backstreets after all, according to the city commission.

Officials unanimously nixed the idea of the quiet "carts" from city streets last week after several years of pondering the vehicle's fate.

"We're not a golfing community," City Commissioner Lisa Maria Phillips said, "unless you spell it 'Gulf.' I don't want them."

Her colleagues agreed, and the matter was dropped.

The decision followed on the heels, or bumper, of a recommendation by Police Chief Sam Speciale to reject the proposal for both northern and southern portions of the city. He had originally reluctantly endorsed the electric vehicle use in the historic old-town section of the city - the Bridge Street area - but then said he could not support a plan that would have allowed the vehicle's use in the northern portion of the city due to safety issues.

Implicit in the no-no-to-the-north ban was the fear that electric cart drivers would be unable to resist the lure of driving on Gulf Drive to points north, which is prohibited by state law.

"This is not a large community, and we have the free trolley, and besides, I need the exercise," said Commissioner John Shaughnessy in his vote against the issue.

Commissioners agreed to a willingness to review the issue at a later date, hinting that an electric cart may be a viable use for Bridge Street when and if a proposed water taxi materializes at the Anna Maria Sound end of the business district. Such a "mini-trolley" would be used to ferry people from the water to Gulf Drive, to Island trolley stops and points beyond.