BRADENTON -- It's an Old Main Street amenity with its brick paver walkway leading from parking areas on 13th Street West onto the 400 block of Old Main Street between B Towne Coffee Company and the law offices of Layon Robinson. It's a popular shortcut from off-street parking, but it could soon be closed to nighttime pedestrian traffic.
The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority on Tuesday voted to authorize spending up to $11,400 to secure the alley at night with two electronic gates. The small decorative alley is a popular spot for coffee drinkers during the day but at night, it's popular for something else. Sandwiched between bars, the alley is a source of contention for daytime business owners who have to clean up the mess left behind from the late night crowds.
According to DDA program administrator Karen Kyser, complaints range from people using the alley to vomit, urinate and defecate to more serious issues of vandalism and fights involving nearby bar patrons.
"Unfortunately, people choose to use this area for dangerous and unsanitary purposes," said Kyser. "As a result, it has become necessary to close it off during the wee hours of the morning just to discourage that kind of activity."
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B Towne Coffee Company owner Mike Gold, who declined to comment Tuesday approached the city about a year ago. The city asked the DDA to fund the project
The DDA has been trying to determine what kind of gates to use. Other unresolved issues include who would be responsible for opening and closing, as well as determining a set time for the gates to be locked.
Kyser said it has been difficult trying to determine who would hold they key since the closure times remain up for debate. The DDA wants to resolve the issue of responsibility by installing an electronic gate that can be automatically set to lock and open at specific times.
DDA board member Mike Carter said the latest businesses are open on Old Main is 2:30 a.m. and the earliest employees arrive for other daytime businesses is around 6 a.m. "But the goal is to cut off that area around 10-11 p.m. to curb illegal activities," Carter said. "It's the late night crowd that goes back in that alley and does things."
The DDA approval will move $11,400 from it's $40,000 site development fund into a project commitment fund. There will be no expenditures until more is resolved.
The DDA is asking the Downtown Merchants Association and Bradenton Police Department to work out the details.
DDA Chairman Vernon DeSear said Tuesday's vote was to approve the funding, "and have the downtown merchants work out the details and come back to us with a final plan for approval."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.