Village of the Arts residents beg city officials for help with flooded streets

jtate@bradenton.comMay 9, 2013 

BRADENTON -- A Village of the Arts business owner begged city officials Wednesday to combat the flooding in the artist colony.

Kimberly Hoffman, owner of Charisma Café in Village of the Arts, spoke during the Bradenton City Council meeting about the hardships of running a business when streets are flooded.

"My patrons know when it rains not to come here," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said she helps restaurant patrons reach the parking lot across the street. She said her Valentine's Day event was almost ruined by rain.

"When I have a party of 23, and it's raining, my heart is beating," said Hoffman.

Her concerns run deeper than the street flooding around her business, Hoffman said. She worries it's hazardous for people to walk through high waters to reach their homes or businesses.

On 10th Avenue West, where Charisma is located, flooding occurs anytime there is intense rainfall over a short period of time.

Public Works Director Claude Tankersley said the problem is the area has a 10-inch pipe that pumps water out where there should be an 18-inch pipe.

Tankersley said the flooding problem is one that cannot be fixed overnight although it is a priority on the city's radar. Fixing the problem will take a lot of money, time and a permitting process through the Southwest Florida Water Management District, he said.

"It's a possibility that it may not get fixed in the next fiscal year," he said. "We have to see how much it's going to cost."

Tankersley said the flooding issue was first brought to his attention six months ago and he's been working on a solution ever since.

"Now that I'm aware of it, we have spent the last six months investigating," said Tankersley.

Dona Lee Gould, owner of Village Voices & Eclectic Art, said Tankersley may not have not known of the flooding problem on the two blocks on 10 Avenue West where her business is located. She scoffed, however, at the idea no one knew of the problem because she herself talked to Bradenton Downtown Development Authority and Public Works officials.

She also cited a 2003 redevelopment plans for the Village of the Arts, which listed drainage as an issue.

Gould said three years ago the public works director who held the position before Tankersley told her they were going to work on the issue. When he left, she said remediation plans were left in limbo.

"They have known of this issue since 2003 and they keep pushing it off," she said.

Hoffman said Charisma Café has to close during the rainy season. Hoffman said she is physically and mentally tired of battling hazardous flood water.

She is hopeful the Village of the Arts Redevelopment plan, "Plan to Act," will finally remedy the plague her business has dealt with the seven years she's been open.

Hoffman and Gould want to remain in the Village of the Arts but the flooding has to be stopped.

"I'm committed, but it's very frustrating," said Gould.

"I'm invested. I love this place," said Hoffman. "I love what I built here. I love that people love it, too."

The Bradenton Public Works Department encourages residents to call 941-708-6300 with any issues with flooding, drainage and sewer.

Jane Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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