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Manatee County will take ownership of this boat ramp Jan. 1. What’s in store for it?

About a decade ago, Manatee County wanted to build a boat ramp at Palma Sola Causeway, but the city found out they could do it cheaper so the county asked them to build it and they would take it over, but it’s taken this long for them to do it. The county will take full time responsibility for maintenance and improvements as of Jan. 1.
About a decade ago, Manatee County wanted to build a boat ramp at Palma Sola Causeway, but the city found out they could do it cheaper so the county asked them to build it and they would take it over, but it’s taken this long for them to do it. The county will take full time responsibility for maintenance and improvements as of Jan. 1. ttompkins@bradenton.com

The Palma Sola Causeway boat ramp isn’t the biggest and most convenient boat ramp in Manatee County, but the surrounding amenities and quick access into Palma Sola Bay make it a popular launching point.

Manatee County has plans to improve the boat ramp and surrounding shell parking area at some point after it takes ownership of the ramp from the city of Bradenton.

It was always the plan for the county to have ownership, but it’s taken almost 10 years to keep a promise made to the city before the city had it built and opened it in June of 2009.

“It’s a long story, but sometime back, the county looked at building that boat ramp and they talked to us to have us take a look at it,” said Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston. “We found out we could do it less expensive, so they said why don’t you do it and we’ll take it back. They kind of reneged and it’s taken them a very long time.”

Poston said the city is more than happy to finally turn over ownership and responsibility to the county.

“It’s not what I would I call a happy story, but I’m glad to finally have resolution,” Poston said. “Personally, I don’t think it’s in the right spot because there is a tendency of the tide washing sand in and out of there.”

Boaters and reviewers have noted that problem on Google reviews, with one boater citing a depth problem during low tide with only about a 10-inch clearance to get a vessel out into the bay. Kayak users, paddle boarders and jet ski owners have nothing but positive things to say about the launching point.

There are very few negative reviews with one or two talking about cleanliness issues, but overall, reviewers give the ramp 4.3 stars. A lot of that enthusiasm comes from the county-owned picnic pavilions across the street and overall area of the causeway with its two waterfront options on either side of the road.

“It’s a great place for family friends to cook out,” noted one reviewer, while another simply mentioned the horseback business that operates on the eastern end of the causeway.

In a letter to the city dated Nov. 1, Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said county staff would begin working on transferring the lease and permits from the city to the county, but the county would officially take responsibility for maintaining and operating the ramp beginning Jan. 1.

“This responsibility will include the launch ramp, docks, parking lot and associated landscaping,” Hunzeker wrote.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker said it’s essentially what the county has been doing but with the ownership becoming official, the ramp will fall under the focus of his department.

“I feel quite pleased and confident in the plans we will be doing there,” Hunsicker said in a voice message left for the Bradenton Herald on Wednesday. Hunsicker was not immediately available on Thursday to provide more information on what improvements, if any, the county has planned for the short or long terms.

Nicholas Azzara, information outreach manager for the county, said many of those details will be discussed at thecounty commission’s Nov. 27 meeting. Hunzeker will make his official recommendation at that time to accept the boat ramp from the city of Bradenton.

Urban Affairs Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been covering the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.


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