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Letter to the Editor

$82,000 per parking space?


The Manatee Board of County Commissioners is considering spending $172 Million Dollars on four parking garages. I had the privilege of attending a meeting to discuss the four proposed parking garages. We were informed that $30 million is budgeted and the county could obtain up to $180 Million in bonds.

Tom Yarger, Construction Project Manager at Manatee County Government, gave a slide presentation of each of the four garages as he described the number of parking spaces and the cost; he prefaced each number with “probably, could be or about” and the numbers changed for each of the first three on each slide.

The reason I attended the meeting was for the fourth garage which is planned to be built on Anna Maria Island. I wanted to learn how and why the “Home Rule” was circumvented by Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge.

He had another person give a timeline of how we got to proposing a garage on AMI. I became curious after a different person presented the AMI garage timeline. I thought it may be helpful to learn what has happened over the same timeline with Commissioner Ostenbridge. So, I googled the commissioner and here is what I discovered. Mr. Van Ostenbridge works in the local real estate industry and is currently with Boyd Realty. In 2015, he founded Be Easy Tours, a Bradenton-based excursion company. Here are a couple of articles about the commissioner you may want to read:




Back to the proposed fourth garage on AMI. Mr. Yarger described it as a “gateway” into Holmes Beach which would create 900 paid parking spaces in the next three years. Mr. Yarger stated that 300 parking places exist, however, William L. Tokajer, Chief of Police stated during the comment portion of the workshop there are 475 spaces currently available.

The cost projection was $35 million for the garage or $38,888 per space. If you look at the net gain in spaces of 600, it would be $58,000 per, if the Chief Police is correct with a net gain of 425 new parking spaces each additional space would cost Taxpayers $82,000 per space.

Even more concerning, during the workshop, there was no mention of road or access improvements to getting on to Anna Maria Island which on weekends and holidays takes at least an hour from the mainland to reach the current parking lot driving over a draw bridge that is past its prime.

Commissioner George Kruse informed his fellow Commissioners “10 days per year” additional spaces may be used. Where are additional people going to go on the Seven Miles of AMI? The presentation also informed the commissioners and audience that to date there have been no environmental or impact studies, but they need to have them done…. It should be noted that the garage would provide access to the seven-acre beach and during the two-plus year construction the existing 300-475 spaces, bathrooms, changing areas and Concession Stands (Food, drinks, souvenirs etc.…) would not be available. The timeline is of interest in that the Coquina Beach parking lot (875+/- spaces south AMI) has been under construction since April 2019.

This begs the question: why do Kevin Van Ostenbridge and Representative William Cloud "Will" Robinson Jr. really want a garage built on AMI?

Bruce Meyer
Manatee County


3 comments on this item

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  • Dianna

    Not a resident of the island and feel this is a total overreach by the government officials listed above as they trample over home rule.  This is a complete and total waste of our tax dollars, when the actual problem is traffic getting to the beach.  The fact that some commissioners were stupid enough to actually state that this is their number one priority when they have a garage that is an actual public safety hazard is ridiculous.

    Sunday, August 20, 2023 Report this

  • pdsinc

    That money would go a long way toward road repair and improvements to meet increased traffic. Roads that Manatee County residents that travel them would benefit from. Many more than those that go to the beach.

    Sunday, August 20, 2023 Report this

  • Cat L

    Why does KVO want the garage really, indeed? He doesn't seem to care about other peoples boundaries or property, based on historical actions.... I'm sure there is something he is gaining for this. Anyone else think his behavior tends toward sociopathic?

    Tuesday, August 22, 2023 Report this