Officials pursue multi-use trail extension

Multi-use trail extension being pursued
The city of Anna Maria’s multi-use trail currently stops at Archer Way on the south end of town. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria’s city officials want to fill in the city’s share of the gap that still exists between Anna Maria’s multi-use trail and Holmes Beach’s new multi-use trail.

Both concrete trails run along the eastern edge of Gulf Drive.

Commissioner Amy Tripp requested the discussion that took place at the Thursday, May 9 meeting. After approximately 25 minutes of discussion, the commission unanimously agreed to issue a request for proposals that will provide the commission with a firm cost estimate.

Tripp thinks Anna Maria should lead by example and complete the remaining section of her city’s multi-use trail by extending it south from Archer Way to CrossPointe Fellowship’s southernmost driveway. The remaining gap between the church driveway and 85th Street is in Holmes Beach and would be left for that city to complete when possible.

Anna Maria completed its initial multi-use path last fall. It extends north from Archer Way to Willow Avenue. There it connects to North Shore Drive, which provides bicyclists an alternate route through residential neighborhoods.

Murphy said he contacted someone in Holmes Beach and was told connecting that city’s trail to Anna Maria’s trail is not on the books this year. Murphy said he was told those funds might be available next year.

Murphy said Anna Maria could build a five-foot-wide paved trail that would be narrower than the existing trail that is six or seven feet wide in most places and five in others.

Murphy said a five-foot-wide trail extension would not require any trees to be removed or any rights of way to be acquired. Nor would it require any additional sewer or drainage elements.

“$50,000 should cover it, it could be a little bit less,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the expenditure is not included in the current fiscal year budget and he does have some spending reservations due to the unknown final cost of the new Anna Maria City Pier. He also mentioned the approaching hurricane season as another unknown.

Murphy also said he doesn’t want the trail construction taking place during peak tourist season like it did in Holmes Beach.

As a side note, Murphy said he recently learned Anna Maria’s welcome sign is actually in Holmes Beach and may need to be moved.

A show of faith

“It shows good faith on our part,” Tripp said of the proposed extension.

“I agree, I think the sooner the better. It’s also a safety issue,” Commissioner Dale Woodland said.

Commission Chair Brian Seymour said, “I’m all for doing this, but I think it needs to be in next year’s cycle.”

Commissioner Carol Carter said the new budget year starts soon (Oct. 1). If the trail extension is included in next year’s budget the project could be completed in the fall before the heaviest crowds return.

Tripp said it’s worth spending $50,000 to complete a project that addresses public safety.

“If it inspires Holmes Beach to step up and meet us, all the better. I’m all for the pier, but I think we get a little single-issued. It’s all about the pier all the time,” she added.

Woodland said he wasn’t concerned about spending $50,000 in the current budget cycle because the city’s ad valorem tax revenues continue to increase each year.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said, “I could go either way on this. I could see waiting until the next budget. At the same time, we could once again be the leader and finish this project for $50,000 – $50,000 is not going to keep us from building the pier.”

Copeland then suggested issuing an RFP to provide the commission with the funding details needed to decide when to initiate the project.

“If we have to do an RFP it’s not going to be until September anyway,” Seymour said.

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