County removing six trees at Coquina, protest continues

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Equipment is stationed June 4 next to stormwater drainage supplies at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, where Australian pine trees were marked by the county for removal. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Bradenton Beach resident Mike Norman June 6 holds a stack of 1,010 signatures collected for a petition opposing Manatee County’s plan to remove Australian pine trees from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Courtesy Marlin Ellis
The first phase of county parking lot improvements at Coquina Beach is at the southern tip of Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Work felling six Australian pine trees is set to begin at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

The Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted 7-0 June 6 to approve the removal of six Australian pine trees at the south end of the public beach parking area.

County administrator Cheri Coryea said the trees are in the path of a pipeline planned for an ongoing drainage improvement project. She said the trees must be removed for the contractor to proceed.

Not removing the trees would force Bradenton-based contractor Woodruff and Sons to demobilize and move materials, costing the county time and money, according to Coryea at the June 6 land use meeting.

“We are mobilized, and the project is underway,” Coryea said. “This is just a temporary thing we need to do to make a little progress.”

Coryea said the original plan for the Coquina parking drainage improvement project involved the removal of 30 Australian pine trees in the south parking area so Woodruff and Sons could pave the parking lots with pervious concrete after installing underground stormwater drainage pipelines.

Woodruff is working on the first phase of the project at the south end of Coquina, and the project will move to the north end in two more phases.

Coryea told commissioners she would return with a report mapping out the locations of additional trees proposed for removal at a meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Manatee County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

“At that meeting, we will have facts and figures on the impact of any delay — both in construction costs and demobilization, and also in completion,” Coryea said.

“People love that beach. So we do need to have a full picture, I think,” Commissioner Betsy Benac said. “So, removing the six trees is OK, but I’m not committing at all to what will happen after because it just needs a lot more input.”

Commissioner Reggie Bellamy suggested the county look into recycling the trees.

“It may be an opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade,” he said.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie June 5 shared an email with CRA members from County Commission Chair Stephen Jonsson. In the email, Jonsson asked if the county redesigned the project, would the city assist. Chappie asked members for a consensus on how to respond since the agency is planning a jitney trail from Coquina parking to alleviate parking in the CRA district.

The members said Chappie should respond “yes” so they might have some say in the project.

City commissioners came to the same decision at a June 6 meeting, when Chappie again asked for a consensus on how to respond to Jonsson’s email.

However, Coryea has said a complete redesign of the drainage improvement project would be “highly unlikely.”

Chappie added that Bradenton Beach resident Mike Norman and members of Stop Taking Our Pines, a group founded in the 1990s to oppose the removal of Australian pine trees on the island, had collected 1,010 signatures on a petition opposing the removal of trees at Coquina.

Chappie said he would deliver the petition to Coryea. Chappie and the commissioners also signed the petition — bringing the count to 1,015 on June 6.

Vice Mayor Jake Spooner said he helped collect signatures with Norman, and noted a lot of people were upset about the plan to remove the trees.

5 thoughts on “County removing six trees at Coquina, protest continues

  1. Janet Aubry

    Clearly! It is no longer enough for us to be indignant. Putting our thoughts in writing frequently and publicly will make them understand how serious we are about getting the kind of representation they are incapable of. Thank you for doing so.

  2. Janet Aubry

    Manatee County has , once again, been caught red-handed, and with no regard for or advance consultation with island residents and officials, proceeding with the destruction this time of our tree canopy at Coquina Beach. Not unlike the destruction of an active osprey nest at the Holmes Beach tennis courts last year, they cite “expert opinions” after the fact when confronted with the error of their ways. That nest, by the way, was replaced by a man made platform with twigs added that has never housed the rousted or any other osprey since that time. So much for the bogus ‘mitigation’ theory often used by developers and approved by the county on projects like the mangrove destruction at Aqua By The Bay to cite a recent glaring total misstep by the same commission. Are we ever going to have county commissioners who walk the walk by standing
    up for the island residents and alerting us in advance to these assaults on our environment? Can we replace the current elected officials with proactive, informed and effective representatives in touch with us and our real desires? We don’t need more talking – we need responsible and responsive listeners representing us. I would never vote for anyone currently occupying a place on the Manatee County Commission and neither should you.

  3. maite

    The trees and the beach are complementing each other, any person who is aware of their environment would understand and support to leave the trees where they are.
    Next wind or rain storm that comes along will show how these trees were very important to the ecosystem.
    I am curious about the person who ordered this outlandish action and what is his experience or educational background about cutting trees is to supported by this action.
    By cutting trees we destroy the homes of countless creatures that have the right to nest in them, taken also away the good air we all need.

    1. Janet Aubry

      Thanks for speaking out publicly and correctly. If the 1,000 plus people who signed Mike Norman’s petition would stand up and put their faces to their names publicly in the newspaper we would have a really good chance of stopping the madness. It would prove we are serious about this and we aren’t going away. It would send a strong message to the commission that we have more than a thousand votes and counting to put them out of office at the next election. And we should.

  4. Robert Rogers

    Clearly, the County Commissioners do not represent their constituents on the Island!

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