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Date of Issue: June 22, 2006

Beach parking, security issues face BIEO

Island and Longboat Key elected officials along with the general public are invited to attend the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at the Holmes Beach City Hall to discuss several issues of vital importance, said Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore.

Parking at the Island's public beaches, security at Coquina Beach and other issues related to the continuing increase in mainland visitors to the Island are on the agenda, she said.

Foremost among those topics will likely be a possible proposal by Manatee County officials to charge for parking at county-run beaches such as Coquina Beach, Manatee Public Beach and Bayfront Park in Anna Maria.

At the same time, Whitmore is concerned about the pressure on the Manatee Public Beach parking lot during peak days, which seem to be just about every weekend, she said.

"With the ever-increasing population in eastern Manatee County, I've seen more and more weekends where there are just too many cars for the parking lot. People start parking everywhere. We welcome the visitors, but we need to accommodate them."

She said she'd like to hear suggestions from other elected officials and the public, but she will go to Manatee County officials with a suggestion that when the Manatee Public Beach parking lot is full, the county use its sign on Manatee Avenue at 75th Street to direct traffic to use the shuttle service at the Beachway Plaza.

She's also concerned about security at public beaches, particularly at Coquina Beach, where promoters recently announced a free musical festival for area youths at that location. Quick action by law enforcement and county officials halted the unpermitted concert, but Whitmore noted Coquina Beach has had its share of security issues in recent years.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie is so concerned about Coquina Beach security he's asked the county to consider paid parking there to limit activity.