On March 1, I attended a Town Hall Meeting in Holmes Beach conducted by County Commissioner George Kruse. The main topic of the meeting was the traffic issues on Anna Maria Island and the proposed parking garage. Kruse listened politely, but he had obviously made up his mind that a parking garage should be built in Holmes Beach.
His decision was made with no input from any residents of Anna Maria Island, the people who will be most affected by the building of the parking garage. It’s disappointing that all the county commissioners, Rep. Robinson and Rep. Boyd did not take the time to meet with their Anna Maria Island constituents to gather additional input on a decision of this magnitude. What Kruse did not tell the audience is that the day before the Town Hall Meeting he had voted, along with the other County Commissioners, to endorse the parking garage. He has subsequently stated he is in favor of House Bill 947, legislation that would authorize a parking garage in county-managed public parks such as at Manatee Beach.
Kruse did admit that Anna Maria Island does not have a “visitor” problem, but rather has a traffic problem. His solution to reducing traffic on Anna Maria Island is to build a parking garage that Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge has stated could add 1,500 additional parking spaces. How does the building of a 1,500-stall parking garage reduce traffic coming onto Anna Maria Island? Won’t providing 1,500 additional parking spaces only add to the traffic problem? Why aren’t the county commissioners, Rep. Robinson and Rep. Boyd pursuing other options that would allow visitors to Anna Maria Island while reducing traffic as actively as they are pursuing a parking garage? Why aren’t they moving more quickly to find other solutions such as off-island parking facilities, shuttle services or other mass transit options to reduce the number of cars coming onto Anna Maria Island?