ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy wants city commissioners to give some thought as to how parking and public safety issues can be better addressed along Pine Avenue.
The Anna Maria City Commission has also extended the city’s sandwich board sign allowance for another year.
During last week’s commission meeting, Murphy asked commissioners to look at Pine Avenue, from city hall to the pier, and provide him with some options for future discussion on what could be improved.
Murphy suggested the considerations include whether loading zones and time limits for parallel parking are needed, and whether to expand or eliminate some public parking areas.
Murphy said the parking impacts of the pending pier construction and the reopening of the pier later this year should also be considered.
Murphy said he would refer to past studies and converse with law enforcement as part of his research efforts.
“This is not a new issue. This has been addressed many times, all kinds of proposals,” he said.
“I think it’s a great idea that we look at the parking on Pine,” Commissioner Doug Copeland said.
Copeland said there are places on Pine that don’t currently allow parking that could. And contrary to those who feel there’s plenty of parking, Copeland said he and others don’t feel there’s enough.
“Any parking space that could be freed up should be,” he said.
Copeland said he thinks time-restricted loading and unloading zones are needed to prevent Pine Avenue from being blocked. He also thinks the first block of South Bay Boulevard is worthy of consideration as a potential loading and unloading zone.
Commissioner Carol Carter asked if these discussions would include safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“Sidewalks, multi-use paths, what’s the solution?” Murphy said, indicating that these matters would be part of the future discussions.
Commission Chair Brian Seymour asked about lighting. Murphy said that was an absolute must and he mentioned how well the temporary lighting worked during the recent holiday event.
Copeland brought up the gaps that currently exist in the Pine Avenue sidewalks.
“Our phantom sidewalks in the city of Anna Maria, they’re not defined. Consequently, people walk behind the cars. If it’s just a shell path, it looks like a parking lot and visitors don’t know where they are,” he said.
Murphy said this isn’t a project that can be done in “one bite” and any changes would be made in phases.
“I just want to take it pieces at a time and do it logically,” he said.
Carter asked if the city faced any restrictive situations regarding the PAR (Pine Avenue Restoration) projects along Pine Avenue and what the city can and can’t do in those areas.
“That’s an issue we’d probably have to take on separately. What do we do about that? It was permitted, even though there’s some questions about how it was permitted. Is it still legitimate? The fact is it’s there and we need to address it,” Murphy said.
“I think it’s very a worthwhile project,” Commissioner Dale Woodland said of the overall concept.
The commission unanimously authorized the mayor to pursue this endeavor. Based partially on the commissioners’ individual input, Murphy said he expects to bring them some solid recommendations in four to five weeks for further discussion.
Sandwich board signs allowed
In other Pine Avenue news, the commission has renewed for another year a 2018 city resolution that allows businesses to have A-framed sandwich board signs.
The commission temporarily amended that element of the city’s sign ordinance last year to help Pine Avenue businesses offset the economic impacts of the pier closing. The city’s sign ordinance prohibits sandwich board signs, but the resolution provides an exception that’s subject to annual commission review.
Adopted on Jan. 10, Resolution 19-742 allows each business in Anna Maria to have one A-framed sandwich board sign, not to exceed 24 inches wide and 36 inches tall, including the frame.
The signs cannot be placed in the public right of way or impede pedestrian or vehicular traffic or vehicular sightlines. The signs are only allowed during business hours and must be removed during inclement weather. A previous commission prohibited A-framed signs in 2014.