Coquina Beach Market on county commission agenda

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BRADENTON BEACH – County officials announced earlier this month that they would take control of the Coquina Beach Market, but some commissioners are saying, “Not so fast.”

Commissioner Carol Whitmore brought up the topic of the county running the beach market at a commission land use meeting on Aug. 18.

“I think this needs to be decided by the board if we’re going to do this,” Whitmore said. “I don’t believe in the board interfering with the private sector in this. I don’t want to run a flea market.”

Manatee County Information Director Bill Logan announced in a press release that oversight for the market would shift to Manatee County and that the county would take over the beach market from Nancy Ambrose, its director for the past decade.

Whitmore asked for the board to put the issue on the agenda for a future work session.

“This shouldn’t be going out for bids without our board talking about this,” Whitmore said. “I think we need to have public comment.”

Commissioner Misty Servia supported Whitmore’s request to put the topic on a future session.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to go to a work session because this is a policy matter that should have been brought to this board to discuss but we find ourselves in a situation where we’re backpedaling trying to correct a situation,” Servia said.

Chairman Kevin Van Ostenbridge said he would place the discussion on the agenda for the regular meeting to be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

“I don’t believe government should compete with private business,” Whitmore told The Sun on Aug. 19. “This (county running the market) sets up all kinds of liability issues. There’s a lot of risk involved.”

Whitmore said the county does not have the authority to take over the market and the commission is the only entity that can make decisions in that regard.

“Her (Ambrose’s) contract was approved by the board and only the board has the right to terminate it,” Whitmore said.

County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh said since Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes was not present at the land use meeting, a discussion about the market would be in poor taste due to his absence.

“I don’t think the administrator understands his role,” Whitmore said. “His role is to follow board policy – it is not to set policy.”

In the meantime, Ambrose has said she is looking for new venues for the market. She has garnered support through the “Where’s the Market?” Facebook page.