BRADENTON BEACH – Parking spaces at Coquina Beach will become a little more scarce when the south parking lot closes on Monday, April 1.
The south parking lot is closing for up to a year to accommodate stormwater drainage and parking improvements that Manatee County is making to the county-owned beach located within the Bradenton Beach city limits.
The two-phase project is designed to improve drainage and reduce the flooding and standing water that accumulates when it rains. The phase one improvements are scheduled for completion by Spring 2020. The phase two improvements will then commence at the north end parking areas.
According to acting Manatee County Public Works Director Chad Butzow, the finished project also will produce 865 striped parking spaces. The beach parking areas are not currently designated by parking stripes and that’s made for an indeterminant number of parking spaces in the past.
“Today the park has shell parking without any markings to delineate parking spaces. When complete, Phase 1 will have 188 parking spaces. When Phase 2 is complete there will be a total of 865 parking spaces at Coquina Beach. Phase 2 will not impact large parking areas like Phase 1 since it can be done in smaller segments over time,” according to the county’s March 28 press release.
“This is a long term and much-needed project,” Butzow said in press release. “We all need this drainage improvement to have a top-notch beach parking facility.”
The parking lot improvements will be funded largely by tourist tax revenues, as recommended by the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and approved by Manatee County commissioners.
While the drainage and parking improvements are being made, Butzow recommends that beachgoers use the free Island trolleys operated by Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) to get to and from Coquina Beach.
In conjunction with the free trolley service that runs the length of the Island, MCAT also provides regular and express bus service between the mainland and the Island.
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale doesn’t expect the reduced parking spaces to cause significant parking issues.
“It’ll impact the parking a little bit, but I think they’re doing it at a good time as spring break is winding down. Now everybody will be parking more within the center of the park and people won’t be as spread out,” he said on Friday.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie appreciates the county’s efforts.
“I think the county’s drainage improvements are an excellent project that will help clean up the stormwater runoff that goes into our estuary. I compliment them on finding the money and doing this worthwhile project,” Chappie said on Friday.