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Date of Issue: May 20, 2009

Gulf Drive plan complete

The Bradenton Beach ScenicWAVES advisory committee is shifting gears after completing its update to a management plan for Gulf Drive.

Meeting May 11 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., the group acknowledged the completion of the plan for Gulf Drive/State Road 789, which is a state-recognized scenic highway through Bradenton Beach, from the bridge to Longboat Key on the south end to the border with Holmes Beach on the north end.

Then the group set its meetings agenda for the near future, with much of the work called for in the management plan — conducting an audit of older structures in the city, improving parking for the central business area, improving signage in the business district and working on improving the gateway to the city.

The committee developed the corridor plan, a state requirement for continued scenic highway recognition, in consultation with James Taylor of the IBI Group.

The update contains an inventory of the features and amenities in the corridor, an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses, a lengthy chapter of goals, objectives and strategies and an action plan for progress.

Proposed projects to be completed within five years include:

  • Improve the gateways to the city, all of which are in the corridor.
  • Nourish the beaches.
  • Improve directional signs.
  • Renovate facilities at Coquina Beach.
  • Improve the landscaping along Gulf Drive/SR 789 and at street ends off the corridor.
  • Construct dune walkovers at beach access points.
  • Survey older structures in the corridor.
  • Add more public parking.

Long-term projects on the list include:

  • Replace exotic species with native vegetation.
  • Build an open-air arts pavilion and a visitor center.
  • Alleviate traffic congestion on Cortez Road.
  • Create a public square on Bridge Street.
  • Install public art in the corridor.

In other business last week, the committee agreed to look into a cell tower proposed for an area near the police station.

Committee members concerns are that the tower would be located near the Cortez Road gateway to Bradenton Beach.

During the meeting, Commissioners Janie Robertson and Bob Bartelt said they too have concerns about the tower, and that they did not want the city to rush to approve the project.

“I would like to explore it a lot further for the sake of my constituents,” Bartelt said.

Robertson said much more public input was necessary.

The committee also voted to ask the city commission to urge the Florida Department of Transportation to resurface Gulf Drive/SR 789 during off-hours — at night, and at the end of turtle nesting season.

The resurfacing is one of two major DOT projects scheduled to take place in Bradenton Beach in the next year.

The DOT’s current schedule is for final plans for the SR 789 resurfacing work from Cortez Road north to State Road 64 in Holmes Beach to be submitted by this July, and the contract to be executed in February 2010.

Final plans for the SR 789 resurfacing from the Longboat Key Bridge to Cortez Road are due to be submitted by late June, and the contract to be executed by February 2010.

The other major SR 789 project, to be funded with federal stimulus dollars, is to take place this year and involve new sidewalks, added crosswalks on Gulf Drive and across side streets, removing, relocating and planting new landscaping, improving street lights and improving several beach access points.

ScenicWAVES’ next meeting will be at 3 p.m. Monday, June 8, at city hall.