This is in response to the Aug. 23 edition of the Anna Maria Island Sun, “Beach parking garage fight continues.”
I just want to add my voice in support of the comments made by Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer. My family has been coming to Holmes Beach since the early 1980s when my in-laws lived across the street from Manatee Beach. Our three children have such great memories of being on the beach and “jumping in the waves.” We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday at the Beach Café, where my wife’s parents danced together to the background music that always seemed to be playing at the Beach Café every night. Sunday mornings we’d take the kids over to have breakfast with The Pancake Kings. When we were back in Chicago, and then in Minnesota, I’d often see the AMI sticker on cars while out driving, and it’d make me wish I were there. Thousands upon thousands of people all over the country can probably tell you of the great times they’ve had at Manatee Beach and the Café.
It’s part of what Anna Maria Island is all about. It’s the City Pier, where the people responsible resisted putting up railings along it when it was recently rebuilt because railings weren’t in the original design. It’s going to the restaurants that seem to have been there forever, like Hurricane Hanks, Skinny’s and the Sandbar, and coming back to them year after year. But what attracted me right away to Anna Maria Island, and especially Holmes Beach, was that Holmes Beach has somehow managed to hold on to having the look and feel of being a town. It’s not what most of the other islands along the Sun Coast have become. That’s what draws people to come here and to want to live here. Manatee Beach, the Beach Café, the Pancake Kings, they’ve all been an integral part of the Island for as far back as most people can remember.
Take that away by putting in a three-story concrete structure right where people have been parking for years, well, it’s paving paradise to put up a parking lot. Once you lose paradise, you can’t get it back.