HOLMES BEACH – In their first meeting, members of the city’s Committee on Traffic Congestion and Parking discussed a myriad of ideas from a bridge toll to a parking garage to address the problem created by increased traffic to the Island.
“I have gotten ideas from different people, and I thought we’d discuss those,” Chair Dick Motzer told the group.
He said member Peggi Davenport, who was unable to attend the meeting, suggested using bank and church lots for overflow parking on weekends. However, Chief Bill Tokajer said members of St. Bernard’s Church have complained about vandalism and people abusing their lot.
Members said the city could consider paying for signs, installing a donation box or helping with resurfacing the parking lot. Motzer said he would ask Commissioner David Zaccagnino, a committee member, to talk to church officials.
Motzer said another suggestion he received is to eliminate parking on the south side of Manatee Avenue leading to the public beach due to safety reasons. Parking on the north side already has been eliminated. Tokajer said if they plan to continue to allow it, it should be marked for angle parking only.
Parking permit and meters
Mayor Carmel Monti, who was participating by phone, said he has discussed with the other two Island mayors a parking program similar to what is used in Key West with designated parking for residents, visitors and workers. He also talked to the county about a parking structure at the public beach, which he said would raise revenue.
The group discussed erecting a sign at the public beach when the lot is full, parking permits and parking meters.
“Who would issue the permits? Motzer asked. “It would make a mess for city hall. For residents’ permits, how many would you have per household? And then how many would you have for rentals?”
Tokajer said there are companies the city could contract with to issue permits, and said the department is inspecting rental properties to make sure they have enough parking. Monti said he plans to meet with a representative of a company that makes parking machines.
Motzer asked Tokajer about increased enforcement of the laws, and Tokajer responded, “We have increased our traffic and parking tickets tremendously. In April, we had 66 and in May we had 225 and in July we had 140.”
Monti asked members if they should consider a tollbooth, and they said yes.
“It’s worth considering as long as it’s done properly,” Tokajer said. “It should be done very similar to other beach communities where it’s all done by a Sun Pass type of thing so there is no stoppage of traffic.”
Tokajer said the first step is to ask if the state would allow it, and Monti said he plans to discuss it with Gov. Rick Scott.
“I don’t think the tourists will mind paying for the beautiful beaches that we have if we do it right,” Monti said. “I think it’s fair to the citizens that if we put a toll or parking fee in place, it helps offset whatever we could use it for, such as beach renourishment or beautification.”
Motzer said if there were a toll, it would have to be on all three bridges.
Other ideas members discussed included a park and ride from 75th Street in Bradenton and making Marina Drive one-way north and Gulf Drive one-way south,
Motzer said the committee also is seeking positive suggestions from residents on resolving the problem. Send suggestions to Island Congestion Committee, 5801 Marina Dr. Holmes Beach, FL 34217, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group's next meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 19, at 1:30 p.m.