Mannix About Manatee: Island can't have it both ways

August 25, 2013 

Too many tourists! Too much traffic! Too little parking!

Oh, my!

It seems life has become burdensome on Anna Maria Island for many of the good folks who reside along that seven-mile stretch of paradise, especially on its northernmost point.

Like Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, who spoke out during a recent meeting of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council at Holmes Beach City Hall.

"Greed is running the island," she said.

You don't say.

So what else is new?

That's the way business is done in a lot of towns around Florida.

They just don't have our beautiful beaches.

Beaches that make Anna Maria Island an immensely popular destination.

For snowbirds.

For Europeans.

For other Floridians beyond Manatee County.

Even for day-trippers.

Guess that would include people like me.

I love Anna Maria Island and lived there on Pine Avenue for more than two years a decade ago.

Swimming at Bean Point in wintertime.

Pedaling to Duffy's for a beer and a burger.

Watching sunsets on serene Sunday evenings.

It was idyllic.

No wonder people pay good money to visit there.

If that includes visitors paying for parking one day soon? Sounds reasonable.

That's what Anna Maria commissioners want to do in an effort to get a handle on the increased volume of day visitors' traffic.

It would certainly provide a welcome, additional source of needed revenue for the city.

Maybe not so welcome by business partners Ed Chiles and Michael Coleman, who were pivotal in the redevelopment of Pine Avenue.

But as long as the parking tariff isn't an outright ripoff, it shouldn't be a big problem.

If it succeeds in deterring the kind of day-trippers who don't spend a nickel on the island and trash its beaches, good.

On the other hand, while we're cognizant of some of the problems wrought by tourism and the need to correct them, the attitude of some island leaders toward this multimillion dollar industry continues to be contradictory.

It fills the restaurants.

It fills the shops.

It fills the hotels.

Oops, I meant "resorts."

Tourism is and always will be Anna Maria Island's lifeblood.

Yet, they complain it's ruining the quality of life.

They want tourists.

Just not too many.

They can't have it both ways.

"A toll to come on the island is no longer a laughing matter," Mayor SueLynn said.

Oh, that's hysterical.

Don't even think about it.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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