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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

'Plan X' parking going forward in Anna Maria

It may not be the parking plan every Anna Maria commissioner or city resident wants, and it took a somewhat stormy parking worksession March 4 to get the go-ahead, but commissioners eventually agreed to move forward with Commission Chairperson John Quam's "Plan X" to solve the city's parking woes, or at least provide some relief for those woes.

The consensus to proceed came only after commissioners traded some verbal accusations among themselves and with members of the public, and argued the merits of Plan X and some of the other parking solutions proposed the past 30 years.

Plan X essentially calls for 107 designated parking spaces on streets within the beach access zone as defined in the Baskerville-Donovan Inc. parking report.

BDI, the city's engineering firm, had originally recommended 171 spaces, but had identified more than 350 potential parking spaces in the BAZ.

Under Plan X, however, the commission will have to decide where the spaces will be located on each street, and some commissioners don't want to make that choice.

"I feel very uncomfortable sitting up here trying to identify spots," said Commissioner Carol Ann Magill, who favored open public parking in the BAZ on a one-year trial basis.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he did not support Plan X because it was restrictive, divisive and too complicated. He agreed with Magill that open parking should be tried for one year.

Commissioner Linda Cramer chimed in that she had always supported resident-only parking, but there was never a commission majority to support that option.

Quam, however, said he thought the commission at the last parking workshop wanted to give residents some parking relief and were in favor of Plan X.

"Well, if we don't make a decision now, we're going to have a mess," said Quam.

"Everyone is not going to be happy," he added, but it's time the commission make some "difficult" decisions.

Commissioner Duke Miller said the city had paid BDI to designate the locations. Now, under Plan X, the commission was to make that decision.

"I'm not going to tell someone that they are going to have parking in front of their house for life," said Miller.

"But I still support Plan X" as a compromise solution, he added.

For the past 18 months, the commission has looked at permit parking, resident-only parking, alternate-street parking, parking on the right of way decided by individual property owners and open parking, he observed, none of which have been acceptable to a majority of commissioners.

"We've come full circle, so I'm supporting Plan X as something simple on the table."

Many residents at the meeting agreed, although it seemed as if some were in favor of Plan X as long as parking spaces weren't placed on the street they live on.

But do something, said Joe Romeo of Park Avenue.

There is no "perfect plan," but meeting after meeting after meeting on parking takes place and "we don't get anywhere," he observed. "So give Plan X a chance. Nothing is perfect. You can always adjust it. At least get us started" on a parking solution.

John Cunningham of Fern Street, who has had numerous problems with public parking in front of his house, said he's supported every plan proposed before, and he supports Plan X.

George Lott of Oak Avenue suggested that the commission meet with residents of each street where designated parking spaces will be located.

Even Cramer agreed to compromise, saying "let's get moving and pick some spots," but she noted there could be exceptions to some proposed parking locations.

The public mood for the commission to "do something" appeared to carry some weight with the commission.

Commissioners, some reluctantly, agreed to have Quam proceed with marking exact parking locations on some of the BAZ streets and return with that map to the March 11 commission workshop.

Fine, said Miller, but "I just want to be sure Quam isn't wasting his time. Is there a consensus to proceed?"

There was, and Quam said he will try to identify as many spaces on as many streets as possible before March 11 and present a map for commissioners and residents at that meeting.

Handicap-accessible parking spaces would be located on Maple and Oak Streets. Some streets and blocks in the BAZ would have no parking.

The complete list of spaces for each street in Plan X is available at the Anna Maria City Hall.