Councilman Patrick Roff said he would have preferred the original proposal -- the vacant McSwiggins building and lot at the corner of 6th Avenue and 14th St. West -- or another proposed site along 13th Avenue south of 8th Ave. West; that using the 13th Street West right of way between 8th Avenue and 6th Avenue was his "third least desirable site," but that he'd support it "because we need a downtown transit station."
Councilman Gene Gallo said he would not support this request. Yes, he'd heard that this location would be good because it was within close walking distance of most of downtown Bradenton. And yes, he agreed that the current bus transfer point on 12th Street W. in front of the old courthouse was "a disaster," but he also said, "Moving the station a block and a half won't solve anything, and will disrupt businesses."
Owners and managers of several buildings along or near that block of 13th Street West spoke against the proposal. Harry Bakker, owner of the Bank of America building at 1201 6th Ave. W., talked about how a bus transfer station on 13th St. would kill plans he had to add a parking garage and other improvements to his building. He said the additions would raise the amount of property tax his building generates from its current $76,000 per year to over $200,000, as well as creating what he called "the capstone of my career."
A $2 million grant hanging in the balance
Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey reminded her colleagues that in addition to her duties as a Bradenton council member, she was currently chair of the Sarasota/Manatee MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization), a major source of funding for local transit improvements (including this one), and that she wasn't sure she could get another extension for this project.
Councilman Bemis Smith commended the design. He called it "beautiful," and said he'd be in favor of it if he supported a bus transfer station downtown -- but that he'd rather see a transfer station built somewhere outside the urban core.
Councilman Byrd said, "There is no perfect site downtown," for a bus transfer station, and that he would support the measure.
Bradenton Planning Director Tim Polk added several stipulations to the original proposal, including benches that would be hard for a vargrant to sleep on or under, certain types of landscaping and public art, and other design details.
In the end, the bus transfer station proposal was approved 3 to 2, with Gallo and Smith dissenting.
|Artist's conception of new Bradenton bus transfer point by SchenkelShultz Architecture
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