MANATEE - Some term the Bradenton City Council’s action Wednesday to have its attorneys draw up a new ordinance banning horses from the Palma Sola Causeway a wise decision.
But others characterize the decision as the ultimate in shortsightedness.
All in all, it seems the 4-1 vote in favor of banning the horses, which won’t be final until a future public hearing is held, is creating considerable debate.
Bradenton’s Lois Stannard applauded the decision.
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“I have for sometime had a concern over the business of horses on the causeway,” she wrote to Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey on Thursday. “I do not believe farm animals belong on the causeway, and they do not clean up after the horses unload in the water. I am concerned about water quality and keeping our area where water sports are enjoyed clean and safe.”
Although recent water sampling showed Palma Sola Causeway water quality as good, Dr. Barry Steiger, who lives part-time in the area, said one good report should not be considered as fact.
“I don't think a single negative sampling is too useful,” said Steiger, who is not in favor of horses on the causeway. “ The frequency of positives over a period of time would be more informative. My concerns are environmental and public health.”
Anna Maria Island developer David Teitelbaum, who serves as vice president of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, would like the council to slow down.
Teitelbaum on Thursday indicated he is extremely disappointed by the decision. He manages three resorts on Anna Maria Island ,including Tortuga, TradeWinds and Seaside Inn, and he says guests specifically ask about horse surfing, one activity involving horses that would be banned if a ban is adopted.
“I’m extremely disappointed with this decision and hope the council will reconsider,” Teitelbaum wrote in an email he sent to council members.
Teitelbaum said the company that takes tourists out in the causeway, Great World Adventures, seems to have created a product that is putting Bradenton on the world map.
“We know it has drawn a lot of tourism,” Teitelbaum said during a later phone interview. “This is unique and unusual. When tourists go out, they come back raving about the fun they have had.”
Teitelbaum said he would change his stance if he can be shown that the horses are creating an environmental risk.
“We must be responsible about our water bodies,” Teitelbaum said. “I agree we can’t foul the water and create bacteria. But if this activity is proved not to be destructive, I believe it should be allowed.”
Teitelbaum said he has heard that Great World Adventures has a good record of cleaning up after its horses are in the water.
David Ambut’s opinion was delivered to council members with a bit of humor.
“Great idea,” he wrote in an email. “But why stop there. You know those dolphins are pooping in the water, too, and the other fish. You should ban them all.”
Kathy Morrison of Sarasota also had strong words for the council.
“Please get off your high horse and stop attempting to appear holier than thou,” she wrote to council members. “Set some rules on businesses having to pick up after the horses. After having tons of toxic waste leak into the bay from Piney Point, the council is grasping at straws. Concern is one thing, government control is another.”