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Holmes Beach Feud Spills Over to TDC

Multi-modal pathway funding fails to get approval


MANATEE COUNTY — On Monday, representatives from the City of Holmes Beach presented members of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council with a request to use tourist tax revenues to construct a multi-modal pathway throughout the city that would link to around 30 beach access points and city parks.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.5 million. The first phase would include Gulf Drive (Holmes Boulevard to 66th Street) and Marina Drive (56th Street to 66th Street), mid-block rapid flashing beacons, education signage, and beach access. The cost for those elements is projected at $1.1 million. According to the proposal, the City of Holmes Beach would pay around $400,000 while the TDC paid for the rest.

The City of Holmes Beach has long complained that it receives back only a small amount of the large volume of tourist tax revenues that it generates for the county. Restrictions on the way such monies are used sometimes thwarts proposals, however, growing tension between political factions has recently become an additional factor.

Since being elected in 2020, Manatee County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge immediately engaged in a feud over public parking spaces with Holmes Beach Mayor Judy Titsworth. In 2021, the county commission denied nearly $300,000 in funding to reimburse the island city for seawall repairs. Most recently, the county moved forward with a proposed parking garage in front of the city's public beach. A statute passed by the Florida legislature enabled the county to go around the city and permit the project itself.

Noting several recent accidents on the island in which pedestrians or cyclists were hit and killed by motor vehicles, Holmes Beach Public Works Superintendent Sage Kamiya said the request regarded "safe travel."

The proposal received a relatively cold reception from Manatee County Commissioner James Satcher, who represents the BOCC on the TDC board. On multiple occasions, Satcher noted the disagreement over public parking, which was reduced slightly to address citizen complaints over public urination, littering, and property damage in residential areas. Satcher also noted that Holmes Beach has resisted hosting a stop for the upcoming water taxi that will ferry people from downtown Bradenton to the islands.

Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown, who is also a close political ally of Van Ostenbridge and previously signed a letter petitioning the city to open more parking spaces, reiterated that the city did not want the water taxi to use its docks. Brown stressed that he felt that a multi-modal path would be part of a vision that includes the taxi and ultimately said that he would require more information to support the project.

The board ultimately voted unanimously to have city officials address some of the board's questions and concerns before bringing it back before the TDC at the November meeting. Video of the portion of the meeting that addresses the proposal can be viewed below.


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  • nellmcphillips

    So again the BOCC shows how incompetent they are by buying boats for water taxis and having no place to dock them near the beach. Glad the beach communities are sticking it to them opposing the taxi as well as the parking garage. But now a legitimate safety project is dissed. A bike trail is a no brainer and would likely help traffic issues as well. Drama and more drama at BOCC. We need to vote these folks out.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2023 Report this

  • Debann


    Wednesday, August 23, 2023 Report this