Vol 7 No. 18 - January 24, 2007

Recurring themes at parking meeting

More than 40 people crowded into Bradenton Beach City Hall to discuss the problems stemming from a shortage of parking spaces in the city. Alan Garrett (far right) was hired to facilitate the meeting.

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Tourists and others new to the city don’t know where they can park, and if they get confused, they’re likely to park anywhere.

People who come to visit the beach park in spacs intended for customers along Bridge Street.

Businesses end up sharing their parking space, customers to the BeachHouse restaurant might end up parking on Bridge Street and customers to Vinjavagar might end up parking at the BeachHouse.

Those were some of the remarks from the more than 40 people who attended a meeting at Bradenton Beach City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 17.

It was billed as a town hall meeting and Mayor John Chappie hired a facilitator to run it, saying everyone at the meeting would be on equal footing, whether a business owner or an elected official.

"Every idea is on the table," he said, when announcing the series of meeting to look for solutions to the shortage of parking spaces.

Other observations were that the city’s parking shortage is centered on its business district in and around Bridge Street and that ticketing tourists who park illegally should be done as a last resort to keep from discouraging them to vacation here again.

City planner Alan Garrett ran the meeting, saying the first two weekly sessions would be used to look at the problem followed by a week’s break and then a meeting to discuss solutions.

The meetings are the result of complaints by business owners over the shortage of parking spaces in the business district when the city was considering a major development permit for the reconstruction of the Bridge Street Pier.

Part of the new pier would be a restaurant with more seating spaces than the previous one, but with the same number of parking spaces. That statistic brought the complaints from the business owners.

"At BridgeWalk, we have enough parking spaces for the resort and restauran, but there is uncontrolled parking on the street," said Barbara Rodocker, owner of BridgeWalk and Silver Surf resorts. "On holiday weekends, we have had to hire officers to police our parking lot. We don’t feel we should have to pay someone to do what the police should be doing."

Others said that the city needs to provide parking for employees of the shops so that the existing spots near their shops will be available for customers.

The next meeting is at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at city hall. Everyone is welcome.

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