BRADENTON – Anyone who’s traveled the Palma Sola Scenic Highway has seen the roadside businesses popping up along Manatee Avenue – kayak, paddleboard, horseback riding and now, Jet Ski rentals.
While the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity (CME) can’t stop the businesses from being there, they are working to reduce the visual impact on the scenic highway. Members met Aug. 10 to discuss improvements planned for the roadside and how they can help reduce the impact of the various businesses that have sprung up along the causeway’s beach areas.
The scenic highway stretches along Manatee Avenue from 75th Street in Bradenton to East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach with plans to extend it to Manatee Beach in the near future. One of the most picturesque sections of the scenic highway is the Palma Sola Causeway Beach with water views on both sides of the road.
During their quarterly meeting, members noted that in addition to the horseback riding, kayak and paddleboard rentals already taking place in the area, motorized watercraft rentals also have sprung up – along with other vendors – on the side of the road. While the CME’s members cannot prevent businesses from using the causeway as long as cash does not exchange hands there, they can enforce existing sign regulations in the area.
Co-chairs of the committee Ingrid McClellan and Craig Keys said they’d be willing to speak with vendors along the causeway and city of Bradenton code enforcement officials about the proliferation of signage in the area. No advertising signage is allowed on the scenic highway and, while McClellan said they’d been allowing businesses to slide with sandwich board signs, she’s noticed much larger business signs being used, including banners and flag signs that are pushed into the ground.
Members of the group agreed to not allow any business signage on the causeway going forward unless it’s small and a part of a vehicle.
Members also agreed to crack down on overnight parking and camping on the causeway and at the Palma Sola Boat Ramp. McClellan said she’d noticed some boats that are moored just off the causeway beach, and while the group cannot stop that activity, she said vehicles belonging to the boat owners have been parked long-term on the causeway.
“We are not their parking lot,” she said. The group agreed to reach out to the Bradenton Police Department and code enforcement to see if the vehicle owners could be notified that they’re not allowed to park overnight on the causeway or if the vehicles can be ticketed.
Improvements planned for the scenic highway include the addition of new, larger trash cans, a refresh of the mural on the park’s restroom facilities and the replacement of bollards along the shoreline.
CME members also discussed the possibility of having a crosswalk with flashing beacons installed across Manatee Avenue near the restroom facilities.