Talk of paid parking is moving south from Anna Maria into Holmes Beach.
Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino presented a plan April 22 he dubbed “Commissioner Zaccagnino Preservation and Parking Control Plan” for discussion.
“I’ve had it. We’ve asked for money from the county for years and years,” said Zaccagnino. “I want to take control from the county’s hands.”
The proposal comes on the heels of an April 16 forum hosted by Mayor Carmel Monti in which he discussed a possible gondola lift and parking garage to ease traffic. While Monti’s ideas lacked support, residents voiced concerns over growing traffic congestion on the island.
Zaccagnino’s proposal is threefold: He opposes a parking garage at the public beach, he wants to generate revenue for the cities of Anna Maria Island, and he wants to address traffic congestion.
Also, in order to “take control” of the public beach, Zaccagnino suggested rezoning the area from recreational to preservation.
“This will ensure that Holmes Beach decides the future look of Manatee Beach, not a bunch of county commissioners and administration from out east looking to maximize profit,” he wrote in his proposal.
Zaccagnino’s aim with stricter zoning is to prevent possible future development by the county.
City attorney Patricia Petruff said Manatee Public Beach is deeded to the county, but its use is guided by Holmes Beach’s land development code and zoning rules.
Petruff said that while the city, to some degree, can regulate what happens at the public beach, “I would have some heartburn about making it preservation when it’s been used for recreation for years.”
Zaccagnino also suggested islandwide paid-parking permits.
He suggested a $24 annual parking permit for residents of Manatee County and $120 annually for those who come to the island from other areas.
He said the price should be the same for island residents and other Manatee County residents because he doesn’t want to punish day-trippers from the mainland.
The permit would allow people to park in rights of way where free parking is currently allowed. Parking at Manatee and Coquina beaches could remain free and, when the lots are full, they are full.
Zaccagnino said permit parking would encourage visitors in accommodations to walk, ride a bike or take the trolley. Out-of-county visitors to the island might consider visiting other beaches, closer to home.
“Unfortunately it is about revenue, and if the county and the (Tourist Development Council) is not going to help us, we have to be proactive and take control of our own destiny. We have begged and pleaded for years to no avail,” he stated in the proposal.
He also said money collected from the suggested parking permits could be split between the cities and used for cleanup, traffic management, law enforcement, code enforcement, infrastructure improvements and other costs associated with the permitting process.
Commissioner Jean Peelen, who sits on the TDC, said the island officials would need a unified approach, not as “three little cities.”
“I think at the (April 16) meeting I heard an openness to paid parking from the residents,” said Monti.
The commissioners have voiced opinions against the idea of paid parking in previous meetings concerning traffic congestion.
“After the meeting (April 16), I thought about it long and hard and I changed my mind,” said Zaccagnino.
Peelen also said her opinion had swayed on paid parking.
Monti said he would plan a meeting with mayors of Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria.
Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland presented his city commissioners with a paid parking plan April 8. At an April 10 work session, Anna Maria commissioners agreed to seriously discuss the issue, which has been on and off their agendas for 10 years.