Multi-use trail included in Anna Maria budget

Bike trail
This section of existing bike lane along the east side of Gulf Drive in Anna Maria will be replaced next year by a multi-use trail. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The City Commission has adjusted its 2017-18 fiscal year budget to include $71,000 for a multi-use bike and pedestrian trail.

Based on the existing 2.05 millage rate, the $5.7 million in budgeted expenses also provides $110,000 for two additional Sheriff’s Office deputies for the second half of the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

At the request of Commissioner Dale Woodland, the commission agreed to double its annual $100,000 lump sum payment against the principle owed on the $2.84 million loan taken out in 2011 to purchase the six lots now known as City Pier Park.

“Think about this path as an investment in the city and not as an expenditure.”
Amy Tripp, Anna Maria resident.

Trail approved

To be constructed in unison with previously budgeted $100,000 stormwater and drainage improvements, the multi-use trail will run along the east side of Gulf Drive, from Willow Avenue to the Holmes Beach city limits.

The 4-0 vote in favor of reallocating funds for the trail was inspired by public comments made during the Thursday, Sept. 28, commission meeting. Vacationing Commissioner Nancy Yetter missed the meeting that signaled a reversal of the previous majority position taken at the first budget hearing on Sept. 14, when she and commissioners Brian Seymour and Carol Carter said it was not the right time for the trail expenditure.

Last week, resident Alex Wagenaar said, “We are smothering under a surf of cars on this Island. People are stuck for an hour just trying to get down to Bradenton Beach. We have to make it friendly for the residents who want to run down from our great city to Duffy’s for a burger. Take a bike instead of your car. We want to persuade visitors that they don’t need a car. We’ve got trolleys, we’ve got bikes, we’ve got alternative ways to get around.”

Bicyclist and pedestrian safety advocate Amy Tripp pleaded her case to the city commission last week. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Resident Amy Tripp said, “A few years ago I was asked by the city to develop a bike path and bike route, which I did. I’ve started a petition that has over 65 signatures on it. Please reinstate the $71,000 for a multi-use path. We have bicyclists with babies just feet away from the cars. If we had this eight-foot path we would be offering a better option. It ties into the bike route. I spoke with the mayor of Holmes Beach: they’re going to do a similar path that would adjoin to ours. It would be a beautiful connection between the two cities. Think about this path as an investment in the city and not as an expenditure.”

Dusty Crane also collected petition signatures.

“This makes sense. This is good for our city. Let’s get going here and start curing some of our ills,” she said.

Resident Bob Meehan shared observations made while walking his dog along Gulf Drive.

“The city has a serious safety problem. During busy times of year, families with young children congest this east side shoulder, walking in both directions at all hours of the day. It would seem only a matter of time before a pedestrian accident occurs, leaving the city vulnerable to extensive litigation costs. Please keep our residents and visitors safe, while safeguarding the assets of the city,” he said.

Speaking as a resident, Mayor Dan Murphy said, “I think you all know this bike path means an awful lot to me. I understand the issues of reclaiming the right of ways, but I don’t mind taking the heat. I think it’s the right thing to do and the right time. We have the money to do this. It’s something we’ll do in the summer months when the traffic load is way down.”

Park paydown

City Clerk and Finance Director LeAnne Addy addressed the cost-savings incurred by making a $200,000 lump sum payment instead of the $100,000 payment made last year in addition to the regular park property loan payments.

Addy said a $200,000 payment made this year would decrease the city’s anticipated interest costs of $315,446 by $24,100 and shorten the loan payoff date from March 2030 to December 2028.