Carol Whitmore called it the “county commission road show.”
Rather than meeting in Manatee County Commission chambers at 1112 Manatee Ave. W., the commission meeting Thursday night was held at the Parrish Community Center.
Whitmore, chair of the Manatee County Commission, and her fellow commissioners were briefed on the results of a survey of Parrish residents.
Members of the Parrish Civic Association distilled the survey into a wish list of improvements, topped by a request for sewer, storm water improvements and the widening of U.S. 301 north of the village.
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After the presentation, commissioners took their seats on stage facing a standing-room-only audience and fielded a series of questions, complaints and suggestions from local residents.
It’s rare that an individual community gets the full attention of a county commission away from a full slate of other agenda items.
Parrish residents really appreciated the attention and opportunity to communicate with elected officials. The road show is a great idea, and additional road show appearances are being planned in Myakka City, Rubonia and elsewhere.
That’s what I call taking government to the people.
Tami Vaughan, a Parrish Civic Association officer who presented the results of the survey to commissioners, was hopeful after the meeting, but knows that the work is far from done to ensure Parrish’s dreams become reality.
“I think the ball is still in our court,” Vaughan told me in an email Friday.
Members of the association will continue to work with the county to ensure that plans to bring the sewer project to Parrish don’t slip again and to work on those other concerns, too, she said.
I don’t think there is any danger of Parrish taking its eye off the ball, given the community’s track record.
Remember how local residents got themselves involved in working on the Parrish overlay district, and how they rose up years ago to fight FPL’s plan to burn Orimulsion in its Parrish plant?
The Parrish Civic Association is also playing a key role in the proposed Florida Railroad Experience, which would combine full-size trains with models in one unique attraction, helping to make Parrish a destination.
During Thursday’s meeting, there were more than a few moments of humor, too.
Vaughan revealed that among resident suggestions for the future of Parrish was to leave it the way it is. Another person suggested a clothing-optional beach at Fort Hamer Park. That was said in jest, I think.
There was also some vigorous applause about whether the Fort Hamer Bridge should be built. County Commissioner Joe McClash asked residents to respect commission decorum and not applaud or deride speakers.
Whitmore said she didn’t mind the applause, but suggested that maybe residents could just silently wave instead.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.