Port Manatee chairwoman seeks meeting with Tampa port commissioner

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 20, 2013 

The Manatee County Port Authority, which also sits as the Manatee County Commission, from right: Commissioners Larry Bustle, Betsy Benac, Robin DiSabatino, Chairwoman Carol Whitmore, Commissioners Michael Gallen, Vanessa Baugh and John Chappie. SARA KENNEDY/Bradenton Herald

PORT MANATEE -- In an attempt to improve cooperation between neighboring ports, Manatee County Port Authority Chairwoman Carol Whitmore said she has asked for a meeting with a Tampa port commissioner.

Whitmore told the Port Manatee Board on Thursday that she hopes such a meeting with Tampa Port Authority Commissioner Sandra Murman could improve relations and help the ports work together on common issues.

The board also expressed a desire to work with the larger Tampa port and other area ports on various joint efforts such as marketing initiatives, which might mutually benefit all.

Port Manatee officials recently told local lawmakers their top legislative priority this year is retaining independence for Port Manatee.

They oppose an idea, which

has been floated by some, that Tampa Bay-area ports might consolidate.

Whitmore took exception to comments by the Tampa Port Authority's Paul Anderson in a media report, which said although the Tampa Port had offered to work more closely with Port Citrus and the Port of St. Petersburg through "memorandums of understanding," Port Manatee officials "weren't interested."

Whitmore wrote to Murman: "Just to be clear, we were never asked or had any discussions with Paul regarding this issue. His statements were not correct."

Anderson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In other action, Franc Pigna, managing director for Miami Beach-based Aegir LLC port property advisers, said: "I think Manatee is a jewel on the west coast of Florida."

He predicted growth in Florida would mushroom in the less-developed southwest quadrant of the state, and the nearest port -- Port Manatee -- would benefit.

Port Manatee has the "cosmic good fortune to be located in the center" of what will be the future commercial nexus of the state, Pigna told the port authority board.

Port Manatee is north of Palmetto near the Hillsborough County line.

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

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