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Date of Issue: June 15, 2006

Von Hahmann calls for Coquina Beach discussions

Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, whose district includes Bradenton Beach and Coquina Beach, has called for an in-depth discussion of Coquina Beach following reports of a planned beach party at Coquina last Friday that would have involved hundreds of area youths.

The beach party was eventually canceled by organizers after a meeting with local law enforcement and county officials. But Von Hahmann is concerned that as

Manatee County’s population, particularly in the east county area, continues to expand, use of Coquina Beach and other county facilities on Anna Maria Island will increase proportionally, along with accompanying concerns for the public safety.

She noted there have been several recent incidents at Coquina Beach involving large, unpermitted parties, police confrontations and reports from some families visiting the beach on holidays that they did not feel "comfortable" during their stay because of boisterous crowds.

"We need a large discussion about Coquina Beach with Bradenton Beach and county officials," she said. Areas to discuss include increased security, non-permitted parties and "over-use" of the park.

She suggested that Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, Police Chief Sam Speciale, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and other county department heads involved with Coquina Beach and public safety attend such a meeting.

The issue of establishing paid parking as a security measure at Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach and Bayfront Park in Anna Maria could also be discussed, she added. All three are county-run facilities.

Von Hahmann would like to have a meeting first with involved officials before taking the issue to the county commission. She’s discussed such a meeting with

Chappie, but no date has yet been set.

Chappie could not be reached for comment about organizing a meeting.


Whitmore calls for discussion on parking

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore isn’t waiting for anyone to invite the city to a meeting to discuss problems at Manatee County public facilities on Anna Maria Island.

She's sent a letter to city commissioners, Chappie, Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn and County Commission Chairman Joe McClash saying it’s time to "start thinking about closing the parking lots [at the public beach] when full ...."

The mayor said that during the past few months, she’s seen a "tremendous increase in vehicular traffic on the Barrier Islands on weekends," and has never seen such traffic jams in the more than 30 years she’s lived on the Island.

During peak usage times at the public beach, she noted, cars are parking outside the beach along the state right of way and "anywhere else that can be used for parking.

"Everyone has the right to use our beaches and we encourage it," she continued, but with the "tremendous amount of growth in Manatee County, our 7-mile stretch of beach is finally starting to feel the stress of growth. We need to start this discussion soon."

Whitmore added that discussion of a "possible proposal" by the county to charge for the use of the Manatee Public Beach was on the commission’s June 13 agenda.