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Date of Issue: March 19, 2009

County offers revised Kingfish plan

A detail from Manatee County's plans for the Kingfish Boat Ramp located just east of the Holmes Beach city limits on Manatee Avenue. Islander Image: Courtesy Manatee County

New sidewalks, additional landscaping, curbs and a repaired seawall are in the newest plan for the Kingfish Boat Ramp.

The Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity committee reviewed a draft of the plan for the ramp, located west of the Anna Maria Island Bridge, during a March 11 meeting at the county administrative center in Bradenton.

The plan shows the placement of curbing along Manatee Avenue and the construction of a sidewalk from the bridge west as far as Westbay Cove North, although county officials said the state may OK a sidewalk to the Manatee Public Beach. Another sidewalk would wind through some trees at the northwest corner of the ramp.

The plan also shows the relocation of some palm trees from the north side of Manatee Avenue to the south side, which might help deter roadside parking on the south.

The ramp site will contain areas for single-vehicle parking, retain 25 spaces for vehicles with trailers and add 17 parking spaces for trailers.

Also detailed on the plan is the seawall at the ramp, and a notation that it will be “repaired as required.”

To soften the look of the boat ramp parking lot, the county proposed a landscape “fence.”

“Mostly bunch grasses,” said Keith Bettcher of the county’s natural resources department.

Bettcher could not offer a cost estimate for the project, but said bids could go out later this year and work begin in the fall.

“Maybe mid-fall,” he said. “We don’t want to do it in the middle of summer, in the middle of boating season.”

Kingfish is currently under county management and in unincorporated county limits, but Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger has requested that the county commission consider allowing the city to annex the land. The county would continue to own and manage the ramp, but the area would fall under the city’s police jurisdiction, the mayor said.

 “I’ve heard there’s more support than there was in the past” for annexation, Bettcher told Palma Sola committee members. “By doing that, you’ll have law enforcement much closer to you.”

Also pending is a push to install a walkway underneath the Anna Maria Island Bridge ramp, which will be in greater demand when the county eventually opens Neal Preserve to the southeast of the bridge. The walkway would be similar to the sidewalk under the Cortez Bridge.

The Palma Sola group discussed two other Holmes Beach matters during its March 11 meeting, but took no action due to a lack of a quorum.

The first issue was a recommendation from the Holmes Beach City Commission and public works superintendent Joe Duennes that the section of Manatee Avenue from East Bay Drive to the Manatee Public Beach be incorporated into the scenic highway and a citizen’s request to deal with a traffic problem at the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue.

The Palma Sola group previously has indicated its interest in extending the scenic highway, which, if also approved by the state, would mean the scenic portion of Manatee Avenue would run from 75th Street in Bradenton westward to the beach.

Briefly the group discussed a traffic signal at the intersection at East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue, and the need to adjust the timing to allow motorists exiting Westbay Cove North to travel south on East Bay without interference from motorists turning left from East Bay onto Manatee Avenue.

Both issues will be discussed at the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at the county building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton