BRADENTON -- Tuesday afternoon Manatee's Board of County Commissioners and the town of Longboat Key Commissioners sat down for a pow-wow. Both governments share an important part of this county. It was a relaxed workshop setting, hashing over the goals of past and present, and focused on those to come. Helping each other was the gist of the agenda and all would go home happy.
Item one -- Jim Brown is Longboat Key's Mayor, and he has been getting static about the poor reception for cell phones on the north end of the island. The mayor is looking for a place to put a tower. Longboat Key is running out of property large enough to place a cell tower, so he was thinking maybe next to the new Coquina Beach Marine Rescue Facility would be the perfect place. Manatee Commissioners thought it best for Longboat to talk to the City of Bradenton Beach. They supported their request, but felt Bradenton Beach makes the decisions to what is within their limits. Their current mayor was against any towers, but Bradenton Beach is set to get a new mayor.
Item two -- Tourist Development Council Seat. Not much ground covered there. It will be up to Longboat Commissioners to appoint an appropriate TDC seat. They covered some speculative names but no suggestions.
Item three -- Explore consolidation of services. This was an idea from Longboat Key Commissioner Jack Duncan. He thought all of the local governments could benefit by sharing services and resources to become more efficient. Manatee Commissioner Joe McClash suggested, "Beach re-nourishment is a big issue. We all need to be getting on that." He said there were areas where the sand has shifted, and added, "Someday we all will be bidding for the last piece of sand." Mayor Jim Brown added, "Homes Beach spends $600,000 on their 911 operations," suggesting something could happen there.
Item four -- Public safety services and patrolling of Greer Island (Beer Can Island). Manatee County Commissioners recently found out the county owns the island. The traffic on the island has tripled in the last few years. Manatee County Commissioners said they do share responsibility to police the island and are going to work something out. Longboat spends a considerable amount policing the island, and appreciated hearing there is help on the way. Longboat Key Commissioner Pat Zunz said, "Sometimes you can't get a spot to pull your boat in" and mentioned it was a safety issue. Commissioner McClash said, "Boaters help boaters, if anything happens, there will be plenty of help."
Item five -- Funding for continuation of transportation service. Translated into Manatee language, they are saying "trolley." The trolley has been a big issue. But there is no reason to worry, the trolley service is safe. Having the trolley is valued by Longboat and both their neighbors, Manatee and Sarasota. After discussion there was agreement to continue needed funds and to bring an end to the disparities in tolls. Again Manatee suggested an equitable investment and exchanges are there, both helping each other.
Item six -- Manatee Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the previous two covered the last subject and that more meetings to show how they're cooperating with each other will make times better for both. Everybody took a few moments to thank each other and express how they felt about the meeting.
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