Commission candidates address beach parking

Commission candidates address beach parking
Voting has already begun in Holmes Beach with vote by mail ballots sent out the first of October. Voters can cast their ballots for up to three of the five candidates running for city commission. - Submitted

HOLMES BEACH – The vote by mail ballots have already been sent out and Holmes Beach residents are already considering who to vote for ahead of the Nov. 2 election. There are three seats on the city commission up for grabs and five candidates with their hats in the ring.

This week, the candidates speak out on public parking by answering the question “How do you feel about public parking and beach access?” The answers are in each candidate’s own words.

Renee Ferguson

“Six years ago, I had the pleasure of working on the Congestion Committee which was solicited by the city. It was an amazing experience for me because I was able to speak to a lot of residents and business owners. For more than two years we researched and consistently worked with the city to develop a plan which was ultimately implemented last year. There have been some bumps, but there are provisions for permit parking for residents and property owners, and it has helped quality of life in our neighborhoods. The county opened up the elementary school and library parking lots, and this appears to be working. Holmes Beach has more than the state-required number of spots for beach renourishment, and the ULI said that renourishment should not be based on parking anyway. “

John Monetti

“In each topic, I would preface my response with the recognition that I do not have all the current information available since I currently am not a city commissioner. My feelings on the topics reflect topical knowledge though I do stay abreast of these issues as an interested resident.

Once more this is a topic that has unfortunately become very divisive. It should not be an us-versus-them topic. It seems like some want to make this a showdown between the city and county while somehow forgetting that there were many Holmes Beach citizens who also resisted policies adopted. All shareholders should be considered.”

Pat Morton

“I support the decreased parking in residential neighborhoods and the permit parking. All beach communities have limits as to what they can safely accommodate.”

Terry Schaefer

“This issue underscores the absolute necessity of HOME RULE. Without this right, Manatee County and the state would be making decisions on parking, traffic, and other civic decisions. I am supportive of our existing parking ordinance and open to future considerations should demands change affecting residents’ needs or compliance with state law concerning renourishment funding. Presently, we provide more beach parking than the state requires for beach renourishment funding and adequate parking for residents, and ample visitor parking during normal times. The rub comes during holidays and extremely high visitor periods, during which 5,000 spaces wouldn’t be adequate and thus, we place residents’ rights above the demands of the county and visitors. It is the county that has promoted the Island and they share the responsibility to provide parking to address the traffic created by their promotion. Beach access is more than adequate in our city and should be to accommodate all, however, parking solutions to accommodate growing demands should not be the exclusive responsibility of the city’s neighborhoods to meet that demand. This issue is only going to intensify and will need steady management by our city.”

Carol Soustek

“We are blessed to have so many beach accesses and they are open to all. Designated parking spots are on the access roads and across on the streets. We are a small city. We do not have ample land to have unlimited parking. So many want to come and we do not have the capacity to handle the demand. I voted to remove street parking in the residential areas along the beach for safety reasons. The results have shown this was the right move.”

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