PALMETTO -- Traffic may became a little easier for motorists and business owners in Palmetto.
Palmetto City Commissioners voted Monday to change traffic on 8th Avenue West from 7th Street to 8th Street from one-way to two way. The motion also creates a three-way stop at 8th Avenue and 8th Street and will prohibit parking on the west side of 8th Avenue Drive from 8th Street to 9th Street.
The street was changed to a one-way street to during expansion of Palmetto Elementary and to safeguard kindergarten students during drop off and pick up times. The school closed in December of 2010 and relocated to its present location at 834 7th St. W. in January of 2011. The old building was demolished in May of 2011, leaving an empty field of grass.
The change is also expected to decrease congestion on 8th Avenue West.
"I think it's time now for us to revert the street back to two-way to help the businesses along 8th Avenue and that section of roadway," said Allen Tusing, director of Palmetto Public Works Department, during the meeting Monday.
Businesses owners on 8th Avenue West hope the change will increase customer traffic.
"If it creates business traffic, that's always a good thing," said Wit Supharat, whose family opened Circle Bread on 8th Avenue West two months ago.
Supharat said he's witnessed cars going the wrong way on the street, which runs along the rear of his family's establishment and that of a Blockbuster and Subway restaurant.
"I think it's important with the (Blockbuster) building being right there, and with visibility, you want to stop that traffic," Tusing said. "From a safety standpoint, it's best if that's a three way stop."
In other actions Monday, newly elected city commissioners Charles Smith, Tamara Cornwell and Jonathan Davis were sworn into office. In the general election, Davis won the at-large Seat 1 with 54 percent of the votes over Eric Gilbert, while Smith retained the Ward 1 seat with 62 percent of the votes to defeat Carolyn Higdon. Smith was already filling a vacancy on the commission created with the resignation of longtime city Commissioner Mary Lancaster.
Cornwell ran unopposed as did Mayor Shirley Bryant, who was unable to attend Monday's meeting the due to illness.
The commission also extended the site plan approval of two portable buildings on the property of First Baptist Church of Palmetto and approved a conditional use permit to Pacific Tomato Growers, LTD, for farm workers housing, The housing consists of 38 duplexes on the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 301 and U.S. Highway 41.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams