With an estimated 23,000 new homes coming to the Parrish area in the near future, it is understandable that residents have a few concerns.
The heart of the village lacks sanitary sewer, and is beset by traffic safety issues. There is so little retail shopping available that residents have to drive elsewhere to buy what they need.
A Manatee County-funded visioning session for residents recently sought to gauge neighborhood needs.
The short-hand answer: “Everything.
The Mellgren Planning Group of Fort Lauderdale facilitated the session and collected residents’ votes on areas of concerns, represented by sticky dots posted on charts.
“We want a town,” Gretchen Fowler, president of the Parrish Civic Association said at the start of the session held in the packed sanctuary of Parrish United Methodist Church.
Althea Jefferson of The Mellgren Planning Group opened the session with a few key findings about the future of Parrish, including that there is “tremendous leakage of most retail,” meaning that residents have few shopping opportunities in the village and spend their money elsewhere.
But there is an opportunity for retail, and that it will grow quickly. Disposable income is strong in Parrish and will likely get stronger, but spending will likely continue to flow to other parts of the county.
In presenting a retail marketplace profile, Jefferson said that virtually every type of retail is lacking in Parrish, although for some retail, such as an auto dealership, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Most consumers are willing to drive 30 minutes or so to buy a car, and don’t necessarily want the dealership in their neighborhood, she said.
However, they would prefer not to have to drive so far to get to a large sit-down restaurant or retail store.
Among concerns expressed by residents were traffic safety due to road design, the lack of sidewalks, and unpaved roads. There is virtually no connectivity to allow for multiple means of transit, Jefferson said.
“Every single person we spoke to said the roads scare them,” Jefferson said.
“We want to make it easier to get drivers to slow down. We need to make the community multi-modal so that people can get around,” she said.
Although results of the citizen prioritization exercise are not yet available from Mellgren, charts at the neighborhood meeting showed a concentration of votes for traffic calming, sidewalks, and street lighting.
Residents also strongly supported civic spaces, green spaces, and parks, and neighborhood businesses.
Data collected during the visioning process will be used by the county and Parrish residents in preparing a redevelopment plan for the village center.
As one resident said, sewers remain integral for development of Parrish.
“Sewer is what we need. We can’t have restaurants or doctors office without that,” he said.
Sia Mollanazar, Manatee County’s deputy director of public works, has previously said that the construction of sewer depends on the pace of development of the 23,000 homes that have already been approved or for which developers are seeking approvals.