Bradenton council approves utility rate increase, residents speak against Mosaic

mvalverde@bradenton.comSeptember 27, 2012 

BRADENTON -- There was no opposition at Wednesday's Bradenton council meeting about a 1.41 percent increase for water and sewer rates which will become effective Oct. 1, but residents did express dissatisfaction on another topic -- the city's decision earlier this month to name the Riverwalk amphitheater after Mosaic Company Foundation.

During the citizens' comments portion of the meeting, about six people spoke in opposition of the amphitheater's new name and urged elected officials to reconsider their decision. Mosaic Company Foundation, the philanthropic branch of The Mosaic Company, gave Bradenton $95,000 for the naming rights.

Mosaic is a world producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash, with a mining operation in Manatee County.

Some of the speakers were members of the environmental groups ManaSota-88 and the local Sierra Club. They said Mosaic's name will "forever tarnish" "cheapen" and "taint" the image of the Riverwalk, which has undergone $6.2 million in renovations.

"This is not an election-year issue, this is a survival-of-our-area issue," said Barbara Hines, representative for ManaSota-88.

Toward the end of the meeting during council reports, Councilman Gene Gallo said he was upset at comments on newspapers' websites from readers who accused the council of being bribed by the company's grant offer. The council was "looking at different ways to be innovative to take care of our citizens," he said.

The funds offered by Mosaic will help pay for the Riverwalk's maintenance. If that wasn't available, the city would otherwise have to consider taxing citizens in order to come up with maintenance money, Gallo said.

"If you really want to step up to the plate, you give us $95,000," he said to the environmental groups present.

In other matters, an ordinance was approved by the council redefining the boundaries of Anthony B. Rossi Waterfront Park and allowing skateboarding at the newly constructed skating facility along the Manatee River.

The Riverwalk's grand opening is just a few weeks away, but skating at the park was prohibited before the newly adopted ordinance. Skateboarding will only be allowed at the designated area. The new park boundaries are from east of Ninth Street West to the western end of Riverside Drive.

In other actions:

n The council adopted an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Strategy resolution stating Bradenton's intent to "develop and incorporate sustainability goals" through approval and reccommendations.

n A new ordinance was adopted prohibiting parking in electric vehicle charging spaces for reasons other than charging vehicles. There are eight electric car charging stations throughout the city.

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