During the past decade, East Manatee communities have sporadically reached out to one other to address common issues and concerns.
Among the most notable was the East Manatee Coalition, led by Rosedale resident Clint Miller, which seemed to have a hand in every big issue, ranging from opposing the bridge at Fort Hamer and the construction of a school campus along Caruso Road.
Obviously, it had an impact as there is still no bridge at Fort Hamer. But the Coalition was unable to stop the construction of the new campus: witness Braden River High School.
The Coalition did chalk up a perfect record in defeating construction batch plants.
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Its opposition helped persuade Schroeder-Manatee Ranch several years ago not to move an asphalt batch plant from near the intersection of University Parkway and Lorraine Road to an area west of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and north of Rosedale.
And just this week, after years of fighting a proposed concrete ready-mix plant in the Lena Road area, Cemex signaled that it is dropping the matter.
Almost exactly eight years ago in Parrish, there was a meeting of community leaders from Parrish, Duette and Myakka City. Unlike the Coalition, which was comprised primarily of residents from the newer neighborhoods, this was a meeting of neighbors from Manatee’s traditional pre-growth East Manatee neighborhoods, who took great pride in their schools, open space and rural lifestyle.
It was a tantalizing moment in time. What if Myakka, Duette and Parrish came together as one to fight to preserve their heritage, and to try to make their voices heard in controlling growth?
But after a promising start, the collaborative effort came to little result, and each community carried on individually.
Then, just this week, the Residents for Road and Highway Noise Abatement met at Tara.
For the last year, a core group, drawn primarily from Tara Preserve and Tara Golf and Country Club, had been meeting with their number-one issue being stopping the construction of the bridge over the Braden River.
After collecting hundreds of signatures on petitions and vocally lobbying the county commission, the group won a concession: Construction of the bridge has been deferred.
Thursday night, the Tara group turned up the heat a few notches by inviting the neighbors over. They came from University Park, Palm-Aire, University Place, River Place, Mote Ranch and elsewhere.
It looks like there will be a period of organizing, and planning. If the group can grow and coalesce, there’s no telling what it will be able to accomplish. Will a really large group of educated, informed, vocal citizens be able to get their county commission’s attention? Oh yeah, baby.