FDOT nixes signs announcing area's 2017 World Rowing Championship

skennedy@bradenton.comOctober 29, 2013 

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Paul Blackketter, president of SANCA, stands beside a 2017 World Championship sign during a press conference in September at Nathan Benderson Park, which was selected by the International Federation of Rowing Associations as the 2017 World Rowing Championship site. FILE PHOTO/GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

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UNIVERSITY PARK -- Officials were dismayed to learn Monday that a request has been turned down for signs on Interstate 75 mentioning that the 2017 World Rowing Championship will take place nearby.

In order to help motorists find the multimillion-dollar center at Nathan Benderson Park, the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization board had asked state officials for signs announcing that the rowing championship will take place at the park near the intersection of I-75 and University Parkway.

The championship, expected to attract tens of thousands of people, is scheduled to take place at the center, which is still under construction, in the fall of 2017.

But because the proposed sign did not meet state administrative guidelines, it cannot be put up on the interstate, said Roxann Lake, community liaison, intermodal systems development, at the Florida Department of Transportation.

Such a sign must "provide some benefit to the motorists that are using the roadway," she told the MPO board.

The code would allow such a sign three days or so before and after the event,,

she said.

Still, the state's administrative code changes often, she noted, and perhaps the issue could be reconsidered.

Sarasota County Commissioner Joe Barbetta suggested that rather than announcing the event, a sign could be put up to inform drivers that the new rowing center is there.

There will be a number of national and international events leading up to the 2017 championship, said Manatee County Commissioner Larry Bustle, who added, "We owe it to ourselves to capitalize on what we have there."

The board agreed to ask FDOT to reconsider its administrative code, and to consider those of other states, which allow signs promoting economic development.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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