Gulf of Mexico
About 1,100 on-street parking spots in Holmes Beach, including parking in the 200 block along 30th Street, were designated no parking by the city after the parking closure imposed during the coronavirus beach closure was lifted. Manatee County now wants to work with the island cities to help find parking solutions on Anna Maria Island. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen

FL - Island cities, county to work together on beach parking issues

Anna Maria — For as long as most islanders can remember, parking has been difficult. As one of few places with free beach parking, accessibility has led to increased congestion and trash in neighborhoods where on-street parking is allowed, according to some residents.

Over the years, Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach officials have grappled with failed options for paid parking, including meters and garages.

Following a decision in late April by Holmes Beach officials and staff not to reopen about 1,100 parking spaces within a quarter-mile of the beach once the coronavirus beach closure was lifted, Manatee County commissioners agreed: It’s time to speak with island city leaders about parking.

At a June 16 teleconferenced county commission meeting, commissioners reached consensus on County Commissioner Carol Whitmore’s suggestion to bring island city officials into a discussion with the county about possible parking solutions. Whitmore is an island resident who previously served Holmes Beach as its mayor.

The meeting was not set as of press time for The Islander.

In a late April teleconferenced public meeting, Holmes Beach commissioners agreed to Police Chief Bill Tokajer’s plan — a plan requested and reviewed by Mayor Judy Titsworth — to remove the parking spots. The matter was not advertised on the city meeting agenda and no vote was taken.

The city charter includes traffic engineer in the chief’s duties.

Since then, county and state officials have voiced opposition, citing concerns with parking required for federal and state beach renourishment funding and accessibility of public beaches to all taxpayers.

Titsworth countered that since the county advertises the island as a tourist destination, it should help with infrastructure. And Holmes Beach neighborhoods, which have more on-street parking — excluding large parking lots such as at Coquina Beach — than the other two cities combined, should not have to supply the bulk of the parking needs.

As of June 18, the city had 500 allocated spots for beach renourishment, even though it is only required to have 364 parking spots to retain funding, according to Tokajer.

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