HOLMES BEACH – The year 2018 was filled with court cases, city renovations and a highly-contested election for city commissioner and mayoral seats. Here are some of the highlights from this past year.
- The treehouse case, concerning a two-story treehouse built in an Australian pine with additional supports on the erosion control line in front of the Angelinos Sea Lodge, began the year with a refusal by the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. Though city leaders pushed to have the unpermitted structure removed, the treehouse ends the year still aloft in its perch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen filed court documents in mid-December seeking a temporary injunction to prevent demolition of the treehouse. The case goes back to court in early January 2019.
- Pollution at Spring Lake in Holmes Beach has remained an issue not only for the residents surrounding the man-made lake but also for city leaders seeking ways to clean up the lake and prevent future pollution. Currently, the previously brackish lake is acidic and cannot support marine life. City Engineer Lynn Burnett is presenting commissioners with a survey determining the amount of solid pollutants in the water and options for removal to return the lake to a healthy saltwater or freshwater state.
- The city’s skate park has been closed for renovations throughout 2018. At the beginning of the year, city officials were considering rehabilitation of the current park. By the first of December, commissioners voted unanimously to move the skate park to run along Marina Drive with an enlarged concrete park design, costing a budgeted $150,000. If an additional $100,000 can be raised in the next eight months, a skate bowl will be added to the park.
- One of the most controversial conversations of the year concerned how to improve the city’s dog park. After nearly a year of deliberation between city leaders, dog park users and the city’s parks and beautification committee, a design was created that allows the small dog park to remain where it is and relocates the large dog park to a section of the baseball diamond, which will be repurposed as a part of larger plans to remodel the city field complex. Construction is set to begin in early 2019.
- Plans to renovate city field underwent several renovations themselves. Now with a set rough layout for the park complex, renovations are expected to begin early in the new year. The tot lot is being relocated to the opposite side of the park, from near Marina Drive to adjacent to the existing park pavilion. The baseball diamond will be remodeled as part of the dog park renovations and pick up games can be played in the larger multi-use field. With the skate park being relocated, the staging area will be moved to the old skate park location near public works. The only hitch in Burnett’s plans for the park is the newly planted city Christmas tree, located in an area she’d planned as a grand entrance to the multi-use field. Mayor Judy Titsworth vowed to work around the tree to prevent moving and potentially killing the 10-year-old blue cypress.
- Holmes Beach received its first Bert Harris case win in court as the court upheld the city’s occupancy restrictions of six people or two per bedroom, whichever is greater, in short-term rental properties. More cases are set to be heard by Manatee County Circuit Court judges in 2019.
- Over the summer, commissioners voted not to put a charter amendment on the ballot in 2019 to allow Holmes Beach voters to decide if they want a city manager or not. Instead, commissioners agreed to leave it up to the newly elected charter review committee to place on the ballot. If charter review members decide to not address the issue, commissioners agreed to reconsider before the deadline to submit charter amendments for the November ballot.
- The 2018 election brought several newcomers to the table, including Joshua Linney who challenged Judy Titsworth for the mayoral seat, and Kim Rash, who, along with Don Purvis, went head-to-head with incumbent Commissioner Pat Morton to claim one of two available seats on the city commission. Rash was elected with the highest number of votes, Morton was re-elected to another two-year term and Titsworth won a term as mayor in a landslide against Linney.