Bradenton council OKs adding Mosaic name to Riverwalk amphitheater

BRADENTON -- Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston broke a 2-2 tie Wednesday by voting in favor of perpetually naming the Riverwalk's amphitheater after the Mosaic Company Foundation.

Mosaic Company Foundation offered a $95,000 grant in exchange for the naming rights.

“We work to protect the environment and have adopted very strong sustainability practices,” said Martha Monfried, vice president of public affairs for the Mosaic Company.

She said Mosaic had already donated $8.4 million to Florida charities.

“Mosaic is not a new member of the community,” she said, adding that it already supported the Farmers Market.

Council members Gene Gallo and Patrick Roff voted in favor of the naming agreement.

Councilman Harold E. Byrd, Jr. and Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey said they were concerned that the naming rights would be permanent. They both voted against the request. Councilman Bemis Smith was absent.

Philip Brown, president of United Way Manatee County, introduced himself during the public comment portion of Wednesday's council meeting as the new president of the organization and mentioned that Mosaic since moving into the county in 2008 had donated to his organization.

“Their employees since that time have contributed over $100,000 to our community, to the United Way,” said Brown. That $100,000 was matched by a corporate contribution, he said.

“We need to leverage our private sector and public sector,” Brown added.

He said the United Way had no particular agenda but “advancing the common good.”

“The Riverwalk is an example of building and sustaining a community,” Brown said.

The amphitheater has recently been enhanced as part of the $6.2 million Riverwalk redevelopment.

The amphitheater will host performances, educational activities and programs for community groups including churches after its grand opening Oct. 18.

A community resident, who said she was born in Bradenton and raised in Manatee County, said she appreciated the Mosaic Foundation, but urged the council not to accept the naming request.

“I wish I had $95,000 to give you,” she said.

“This is great partnership,” said David Gustafson, executive director of Bradenton’s Downtown Development Authority.

He said the DDA has been working on securing a variety of partners and financial supporters to ensure that the Riverwalk was well-designed and maintained.

The renovated Riverwalk stretches along the Manatee River, from the Green Bridge to Manatee Memorial Hospital. The project will include a day dock, splash fountain, skateboard park and tidal discovery marsh.

“I don’t see anything negative with naming the amphitheater, Mosaic amphitheater,” said Councilman Gene Gallo.

“Are they perfect? Probably not?,” Gallo asked.