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Date of Issue: July 21, 2010

Scenic WAVES seeks direction

The advisory committee that has steered improvements along the Gulf Drive scenic highway and on Bradenton Beach’s waterfront is uncertain of its direction.

“There’s been changes in the city,” said Pat Gentry, who chairs the ScenicWAVES committee, which was formed with the merger of scenic highway and waterfronts groups to recommend projects, policies and programs to the city commission.

For the past several years, the citizens’ group had worked closely with the city project/program management department, which is eliminated in the proposed 2010-11 budget. The department lost its manager earlier this month.

“The fact is, we need some of the support that we got from our staff, our project/program manager,” said Gentry at the start of a committee meeting July 12. “I’m not a grant writer. I’m not a website person.”

“The bottom line is I don’t think we could function without a staff person,” said committee member David Teitelbaum.

Committee members then discussed ScenicWAVES’ purpose and mandate from the city commission, as well as state requirements for the city to retain the scenic highway designation for Gulf Drive/State Road 789 from Longboat Pass to the Holmes Beach border.

Gentry said there are practical questions for the committee — its papers and supplies were stored in the city project/program office that no longer exists, its grant applications and reports were largely written by a city staffer but the position no longer exists, and little funding exists for future projects.

“Grant-writing is a big deal,” said Bob Herrington, the committee liaison for the Manatee/Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization.

And, said Herrington, “It’s a lot of work for a committee to run itself.”

But, he urged, “I advise you not to quit. I hold you up to every single scenic highway (entity) in the state of Florida. …I don’t want this group to just throw in the towel.”

Herrington and Manon Lavoie, the committee liaison from the Florida Department of Transportation, offered some guidance.

Lavoie said some grant applications are simpler than others and can be completed by committee members.

Herrington suggested requesting that the commission appoint a city staff liaison to work with ScenicWAVES, a recommendation that was drafted into a motion and unanimously approved by the committee.

Herrington also suggested the city consider contracting with a consultant to work with ScenicWAVES and he offered his assistance on projects such as drafting the state-required annual report on the city’s scenic highway work.

Gentry said she planned to take the ScenicWAVES request for staff support to the commission at its meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5.

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