Officials still weighing paid parking on Anna Maria Island

acastillo@bradenton.comJune 15, 2014 

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- Paid parking is on the minds of some in office on Anna Maria Island.

Elected officials on the 7-mile island have talked about paid parking in recent weeks as a way to boost revenue for their individual cities and to deal with large influxes of tourists and other visitors.

The idea was discussed at a recent Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials (CBIEO) meeting and is on the agenda for the next gathering, set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. On the meeting's agenda, the first order of business is clear: "Parking Update."

Dale Woodland, a city of Anna Maria commissioner, and David Zaccagnino, a Holmes Beach commissioner, have both shared proposals for paid parking in recent months.

Woodland's plan includes implementing parking permits at kiosks in Anna Maria to generate revenue for the city. Zaccagnino, who plans on running for mayor of Holmes Beach in the next election, proposed a $24 annual pass for all Manatee County residents and island residents before his commissioners May 29. Nonresident passes, for people from other counties and states, would cost $120 annually.

Zaccagnino, who also brought up his "Commissioner Zaccagnino Preservation And Parking Control Plan" before Bradenton Beach commissioners, described it as a "starting point."

"There aren't a lot of fans for paid parking. It's not something that anyone wants to do, but at the same time, when you start discussing the

benefits of what it could do for the residents, then you have people say, 'OK I can deal with that,'" he said.

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh is against paid parking in the city.

In a statement read to her fellow commissioners, Vosburgh wrote: "I agree on most cases that it would be advantageous to work together with the other cities on the island. However, our parking situation is much different, and I feel it would not be to our advantage to join them in solving the parking problem of the island."

"I just don't think that's right to charge people," Vosburgh told the Herald recently. "A lot of people come with their families, and people are struggling money wise. I just don't think that's a good idea."

Vosburgh was present when Zaccagnino presented his parking control plan to Bradenton Beach commissioners.

"I thought it was really well done, but it doesn't relate to us," she said.

Should a united plan for paid parking come to fruition on the island, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam J. Speciale said he would have no issues.

"I really don't see any negative parts of it," he said. "We may have to deal with parking on some of the side streets, but I think we'd deal with that issue if it ever comes up."

Speciale, who has been in Bradenton Beach for almost 30 years, said parking has been an issue since he started.

"There's only so many open parking areas, and with the island becoming more popular every year, we only have a certain amount of parking," he said. "The issue is just going to get worse."

Island visitors, like Terri Brooking, wouldn't mind shelling out some money for parking on Anna Maria Island. The 45-year-old, who is visiting from Indiana for a few days, said it would depend on the area where parking.

"If it's a heavily populated area, I would think they should not try to charge," she said. "Of course, that's probably the opposite of what they want to do."

As he sat by the Manatee Public Beach on Thursday evening, Manatee County resident Paul Phillips hesitated when asked what he thought of the idea of paid parking.

The 56-year-old thinks it would deter people from visiting Anna Maria Island.

"The cities would make money," he pointed out. "But then if people aren't coming here as tourists, how are you gonna make money?"

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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