Paid parking a possible solution along Anna Maria Island beaches

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ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. - Finding available parking spots at some area beaches can be a challenge during weekends and holidays and especially during the busy season. Cities on Anna Maria Island are looking for possible solutions to parking problems.

“We have had a tremendous surge of people on the island which have created a variety of issues,” explained Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti. He says parking and congestion are two of the primary issues on Anna Maria Island.

“The population of Florida is 19 million people. Do you know how many tourists came here last year? 90 million, so almost a five time increase.”

Holmes Beach has never had a plan with to deal with the increasing traffic, and now according to Mayor Monti, city leaders are looking for possible solutions.

One possible solution city leaders are considering would be to require beach users to pay for parking. “At the Beach at Manatee (Avenue) there are four hundred spots there. We have nine rows of parking. Each row might have a solar powered machine that accepts credit cards and cash,” explained the mayor.

Bradenton resident Paula Terzigni enjoys coming to the beach even though it can be hard to find a parking spot.  “Usually in season you cant find a place so what I end up doing is riding down the road and going on the back roads and then just walking over,” said Terzigni.

She tells ABC 7 that even though it can be a hassle to find parking, she is not in favor of paying for beach parking.

“I think we pay taxes and like I said, people come in and spend money for our economy so that would help us out as well, so I wouldn’t want to deter any people from coming here.”

Resident Donna Pulliam agrees.  “I think you would be taking away from what Anna Maria really is and what it is about.”

Paid beach parking is only possible solution Holmes Beach city leaders are looking at.

“There is no one answer to it and it is probably going to be many pronged approach,” said Mayor Monti. He says Holmes Beach has studying how beach cities like Key West handle parking and congestion.

Mayor Monti also wants to implement a bicycle rental program and increase water taxi routes to the island. He tells ABC 7 they are still studying possible solutions to their congestion and parking problems but the mayor hopes to have a permanent solution in place before the end of his two-year term.