Citizens Protest Naming Amphitheater
The City Council has been inundated with requests to reconsider naming the Riverwalk feature for the phosphate company.
Bradenton residents orked to convince the City Council Wednesday night to reconsider their decision to allow Mosaic to name the amphitheater at Riverwalk at Rossi Park.
Half-a-dozen residents spoke before Wednesday night's City Council meeting to try to convince councilmembers who voted in favor of the naming rights to reconsider the vote.
Barbara Hines, who was at the meeting on behalf of the environmental group Manasota-88, said that she and her husband would never go to any event at the amphitheater if the name stood.
Hines described the lawsuits and fights that Manasota-88 and several counties have had with Mosaic and said that that legacy shouldn't be anchored to the new riverfront park.
Others also raised the issue of lawsuits, pollution and heavy water use as reasons the company shouldn't be given the naming rights.
Mayor Wayne Poston broke a 2-2 tie vote giving Mosaic permanent naming rights to the amphitheater. After council members Marrianne Barnebey and Harold Byrd voted against the proposal, citing the permanency, Mosaic agreed to limit the name to 15 years.
Still that wasn't enough for the residents and environmentalists who attended Wednesday's meeting and dredged up the history between the county and Mosaic.
"Naming an amphitheater for Mosaic is disrespectful to all those citizens of Manatee County that spoke against strip mining," said Linda T. Jones.
James Spencer, who worked as a science teacher and took classes on field trips to do conservation work, said the naming sends the wrong message to kids who were taught to be stewards of the environment, especially since the city made the decision with little input from the community.
After the meeting Councilman Gene Gallo was the lone elected official to address the issue. Gallo was angry over the reaction to his vote to grant Mosaic naming rights.
"We have a very fragile situation in city of Bradenton with the economics like they are in this country," Gallo said. "We have a service that we need to provide for 53,000 residents."
Gallo said the council shouldn't be criticized for trying to be innovative in finding the money it takes to provide services.
"That $95,000 is going to go a long way in maintenance that we don't have to tax our citizens for" Gallo said. "Maybe we'll bring more attention to the city of Bradenton. Maybe that's a good thing."
As for Mosaic suing the county for rights to mine, Gallo said it is no worse that the environmental groups that sued the city to prevent development on Perico Island.
"For us to be accused the way we have been and spoken to because we accepted money for a name is utterly ridiculous, because that name is not hurting anybody," Gallo said. "Tell the environmentalists to give us the money and we'll put their name up there."
The City Council did vote to prohibit skateboarding in Riverwalk Park, in any area outside of the skate park. Council members also voted to raise the city's water and sewer rates by 1.14 percent.