ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- A plan is in the works to transform a vacant piece of property near the beach into a $150,000 public park.
During snow bird season, Anna Maria Island is one of the busiest places to visit in Manatee County. With bumper-to-bumper traffic, it’s hard to find a parking spot.
“It’s a zoo,” said Greg Smith, who lives in Parrish and said he likes to go to the beach. “It’s absolutely crazy. The locals can’t find anywhere to park.”
One possible location many were hoping would turn into a park was a large piece of land on South Bay Boulevard and Pine Avenue. It sat vacant for years, but has been off limits to those looking for a parking space.
“The city bought it four years ago in 2011 and they paid about $2.8 million for it,” said Bob Patten, an Anna Maria resident and chairman of the Anna Maria City Pier Park Committee. “It’s been sitting here waiting for some group to say let’s do something with it.”
Patten said the time has come. He and a committee came up with a plan to transform the land into a public park. He said it will have restrooms, trails, native plants and picnic tables.
Patten said while they did consider making it a parking lot but it was not want the community wanted.
“We want to make this another jewel in the corner of Anna Maria city,” said Patten. “Parking is not going to do it for us. We had a conscientious job of what the people want.”
The park will be right next to the No. 1 AMI attraction, the city pier.
The new park is expected to be finished by the end of the year.