SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY For years, cars have been allowed
to cross sidewalks to park perpendicular to businesses on
Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. Critics say the practice is dangerous.
ANNA MARIA — Finding a balance between pedestrian and bicyclist safety and fulfilling the parking needs of the property owners in the residential/office/retail district is the charge of a newly formed committee set to meet early in January.
Staff members are trying to schedule the first committee meeting for Jan. 8.
As it stands today, motorists who want to park at Pine Avenue businesses must cross the sidewalk to pull into a parking place.
“That’s an accident waiting to happen,” said City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus. “It’s unsafe.”
The newly erected Pine Avenue Restoration Project buildings have become a target. In the initial phases of the development of PAR’s properties at the corner of Pine Avenue and Crescent Drive, the site plan showed parking in the rear of the properties with a driveway in and a driveway out.
But an outcry from residents on Spring Avenue behind the properties brought a compromise offer from PAR’s Managing Partner, Micheal Coleman. That resulted in the present parking configuration, with vehicles pulling across the sidewalk in front to enter and leave parking spaces.
Each member of the commission, plus the mayor, named a person to serve on the committee.
Mayor Fran Barford named Mike Pescitilli, JoAnn Mattick’s choice was Gene Aubrey, John Quam named Tom Aposporos, Harry Stoltzfus named Terry Schaefer, Chuck Webb chose Coleman and Dale Woodland selected Larry Albert.
Controversy swirled earlier in December when Stoltzfus, then newly elected, appointed a committee of his own and held a first meeting before bowing to the conventional way of committee formation in the city. Stoltzfus had made the district's parking situation a cornerstone of his campaign for the commission.
The usual way committees are formed is by each commissioner and the mayor naming someone to the committee and then getting approval of the full commission.
City Clerk Alice Baird said the tentative date for the first meeting of the committee is January 8.
“But that could change,” she said. “With the holidays, we haven’t been able to reach everyone yet to see if they can come that day.”
Stoltzfus said the committee is unnecessary, since he plans to make suggestions for bringing the land development regulations into agreement with the comprehensive plan.
The city commission and the planning and zoning board have scheduled a joint meeting to discuss the parking safety issue on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m.