Ringing in 2008 with resolve
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The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the nation's population on Jan. 1 would reach 303,146,284, up .9 percent from New Year's Day 2007. In January, the Census Bureau predicted that a birth would be registered in the United States every eight seconds and a death every 11 seconds.
Islanders’ resolutions for 2008 come in shades of green, with environmental concerns ranking high for the new year.
“It’s time for change, anybody should be able to see that,” said Anna Maria resident Claire Runyon. “The north polar ice cap fell this year. So yeah, that’s my resolution - to be a better steward of this Earth.”
“I think I learned in this last year that the best thing I can do is live a more eco-friendly lifestyle - a little less air conditioning and a lot more walking is my resolution,” said Henry McBride of Holmes Beach.
“The most important reason our visitors come here and our residents decided to live here is the beautiful environment,” said Suzi Fox, executive director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, the local group that monitors sea turtle nesting during the summer, as well as educates the public on turtle-friendly practices. Fox resolved to intensify AMITW’s public education effort.
“I hope that we learn to respect our world,” said Holmes Beach resident and code enforcement board member Barbara Hines.
Others surveyed by The Islander last week offered similar resolutions, straying from the top U.S. resolution for 2008 - to spend less or save more.
A national survey of 15,000 citizens found that the No. 2 resolution is losing weight, followed by developing healthier habits, getting organized, developing a new skill, spending more time with family and friends, working less, and changing jobs.
The survey, conducted for the productivity company FranklinCovey, also found that about 35 percent of people break their resolutions by the end of January and more than 75 percent break them at some point during the year.
In addition to concerns for the environment, The Islander’s survey collected varied resolutions setting personal goals, as well as goals for the Island, its municipalities and its organizations.
Bradenton resident Martha DiPalma, who helps promote the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra, expressed a commonly shared resolution. “I resolve to be a thinner me,” she said.
Barry Brooks, a shift commander with West Manatee Fire Rescue, vowed “to continue to be more health conscious throughout the entire year.”
He and colleague Brett Pollock, WMFR deputy chief, shared a wish - for a new bridge to the Island. Brooks asked for a “nice, functional bridge” and Pollock wished for a commitment to build a new bridge.
Rhea Chiles, former first lady of Florida and owner of the Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria, vowed to live “in the moment.”
She hoped that in the new year people “continue to love and care for” Anna Maria Island.
Chiles’ son, restaurant owner and developer Ed Chiles, vowed to personally “slow down a bit and focus on the important things in life.”
He also vowed to press on with his campaign to preserve the character of “Old Florida” on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. The project involves improvements on Pine Avenue to create a boutique shopping and residential district.
Holmes Beach resident and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she hoped that in 2008 “we look out for the less fortunate and we all help one another, like islanders do.”
Whitmore and other government officials said they planned to ring in the new year with new resolve to improve services but with continued caution about budgets and spending.
“I just hope we have enough money to keep providing the services that citizens want after this next legislative session,” Whitmore said, sharing the new year’s wish of many elected officials.
In Holmes Beach, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger ticked off a list of goals for the city in 2008: to move forward with the Grassy Point conservation project, continue with dredging and storm water improvement projects, create more dock spaces, clear state hurdles to expand golf cart usage and establish more linear parks.
Pushing ahead with Grassy Point, located south of Anna Maria Island Bridge and east of East Bay Drive, topped the mayor’s list for the new year.
“It’s waiting final approval,” he said. “The only difficulty I see on the horizon might be funding.”
Holmes Beach commissioners, like the mayor, want to see action at Grassy Point, as well as more green space created and preserved in the city.
Anna Maria wish list
Mayor Fran Barford wants to move the city’s comprehensive plan through the state system to completion so that it “becomes a fond memory.”
She’d also like to have the Anna Maria Island Bridge shut down for less than 45 days, have enough 2008 revenues to effectively run the city, a mild hurricane season, a July 4 free of fireworks-related injuries and a great season for grouper and blue crab fishing.
As commission chairman and vice mayor, John Quam has an extensive list of New Year’s resolutions and wishes.
Foremost is for the Florida Legislature to initiate a viable tax reform plan.
Quam would also like to see the city amend the comprehensive plan to require that any changes to the future land-use map require a super-majority vote of the commission. Additionally, the vice-mayor would like the commission to review and adopt land development regulations to coincide with the comp plan.
The city also needs to adopt a stormwater utility fee and approve the scope of Phase II of the stormwater drainage master plan to fit the city’s financial situation.
Quam concluded his wish list by calling for a review of the city charter with the hope that “the unique character of our city is maintained.”
City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick has a New Year’s resolution to “take time to walk on the beach more and think about how lucky I am to have found such a wonderful place to live.”
That aside, she wishes that “more of our residents would attend commission meetings on a regular basis,” and provide “input, whether pro or con” to help the commission make a decision.
Commissioner Dale Woodland’s New Year’s wish list is for the city to have friendly, efficient and effective fiscal responsibility and for the city to become “pro-active” with protecting its environment. He’s also “looking forward to the challenges” of the Pine Avenue restoration project to be “in sync” with the goals of the city.
Businessman Kent Davis, the former owner of the Siam Garden Resort on Spring Avenue, said his wish for Anna Maria Island is that it “doesn’t change” every year.
“Anna Maria Island is still a relaxed, friendly, unpretentious paradise that makes it unique in Florida, and the world. Sadly, taxes and insurance have taken ‘economical’ off my list. So, my resolution for 2008 is to always remind myself of the simple things that make this island so special.”
Bradenton Beach officials, business owners and residents offered some thoughts and hopes for 2008 in their city.
“I want to see the completion of the lighting and the renewal of Bridge Street,” said Mayor Michael Pierce. “It will make our city a little more shiny and walkable.”
He said that safety is always an issue, and making Bradenton Beach safe for bikers and walkers was a goal for him.
“I want our city to be a happy place for our neighbors to get together,” Pierce said, “just like in the old days.”
Commissioner Janie Robertson was a bit more pragmatic. “Just like last year,” she said, “I want the city’s comprehensive plant to be satisfactory to the residents and to be adopted. I hope it goes through smoothly and quickly.”
Police Chief Sam Speciale echoed Mayor Pierce’s comments on safety, especially in light of the 2007 Easter shootings at Coquina Beach and the arrest of a man who allegedly shot a store owner in Holmes Beach and was later shot by sheriff’s deputies on the beach in Bradenton Beach Dec. 5.
“I’d like a nice, quiet Easter this year,” Speciale said, “not like in 2007.”
The city’s project/program manager, Lisa Marie Phillips, had a more Islandwide wish for 2008. “I’d like for all three Island cities to form one stormwater plan,” she said. “No matter how stringent we can be, someone is always running in place. Water doesn’t know any borders.”
Barbara Rodocker is the owner of the BridgeWalk and Silver Surf resorts in the city, as well as serving as chair of the city’s WAVES committee and as a member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council. Her thoughts for the new year were businesslike and personal.
“Regarding tourism,” she said, “I’d like people to get realistic with taxes and management of tax dollars. For Bradenton Beach, I’d like to see it continue in a good neighborly neighborhood. I’m happy to see the city’s redevelopment, and people mostly in one accord.”
David Teitelbaum, developer of Old Bridge Village, Tradewinds Resort and Tortuga Inn in Bradenton Beach, and also a member of the WAVES committee and the county’s tourist development council, said he hoped to see an increase in tourism and a decrease in taxes, plus a stabilization of insurance. For Bradenton Beach, “I want to see it continue its success.”
In Cortez, many expressed high hopes that the Florida Maritime Museum will expand to the waterfront in one of the marina properties that may be available.
Allen Garner, president of the core Cortez organization Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, said, “What we need is an angel, a person or an organization to help us do financially what we feel needs to be done.”
He would like to develop a waterfront component of the museum in the Cortez Cove Marina and Boatworks, which soon may go on the market; or the Seafood Shack restaurant across the village which FISH had expressed interest in acquiring in the past; or the waterfront operations of the Cortez Trailer Park, whose purchase by park residents is being negotiated.
Garner also wants restoration of the 1890s Burton Store building to be completed on the museum grounds at the restored 1912-built schoolhouse, and work to proceed on the 95-acre FISH Preserve adjacent to the museum so it can be opened to the public as a nature preserve.
Thomas “Blue” Fulford, lifelong Cortezian, would like to “get rid of those big tin buildings” being built by the Bradenton Boat Club as a 330-boat storage facility so “we can make it Cortez again.”
He wants to see all the restoration and development work on the museum completed, and he definitely wants the Cortez Cove Marina “to stay where and what it is, not turned over to some commercial developer.”
Linda Molto, a Cortez-based artist, would love for the state to remove the paver brick laid down when Cortez Road was rebuilt a year or so ago, but now an annoying noisemaker.
She also wants the old store building refurbished so it can become the “family life” component of the maritime museum, and would love to see the museum expanded.