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Date of Issue: July 19, 2007

Next phase of parking plan ongoing in Bradenton Beach

The next step in working on development of an increased parking program in Bradenton Beach has begun.

Renaissance Group has been retained to formalize plans suggested by citizens through a series of meeting facilitated by land use planner Alan Garrett earlier this year. The first meeting by Renaissance, held July 11, drew a dozen or so people to build upon work already suggested by citizens and business owners earlier this year.

At issue was whether or not there was adequate parking spaces in the city, or whether there was a question of management of the existing parking. Both were identified as problems.

Ed Chiles, owner of the BeachHouse Restaurant in the city, said that the problem is parking in the “downtown” area of Bradenton Beach - the Bridge Street area - on weekends, during the high season and on holidays.

He added that there is a serious problem of parking of employees in the various shops and restaurants in the city, parking which takes away from patron spaces.

Chiles also offered an “out of the box” suggestion for the parking and traffic issues in Bradenton Beach: an elevated highway from Cortez Road to the Longboat Bridge. He also suggested the city furnish free bicycles for resident usage, a program that has been used in Seattle for some time.

Whit Blanton, with the Renaissance Group, said his group would conduct an inventory of parking availability in the city and present findings back to the city at the next scheduled meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 6.

The parking plan for the city began last year, as an informal parking group was formed to come up with a “vision” to increase parking in the city after numerous complaints of the dearth of available places for people to park their vehicles were voiced to the city.

Garrett, a land-use planner from Sarasota who has extensive experience with similar problems of parking on Siesta Key, was first retained by Bradenton Beach to address the matter.

He offered a set of short-term, mid-term and long-term solutions in a broad-brush approach to creating more parking spaces earlier this month.

As to Garrett’s suggestions, he offered a “quick-fix” of changing signage within the city, stressing the aspects of free parking. City hall was used as an example: It is utilized for parking after business hours except for night meetings, but signage is confusing, he said.

A redesign of Bridge Street and the elimination of some landscaping could add additional parking spaces, Garrett said, as would allowing parking on the south side of Third Street South and the west side of Highland Avenue.