BY MARCY SHORTUSE - If you’re looking at having a wedding on Banyan Street, or any other street in Boca Grande in the future, you’d better talk to Bob Green. He’s the man with the answers.
That was the consensus at a meeting held on Friday, April 20 between several local leaders and Barbara Manzo, Lee County’s director of parks and recreation. The meeting was called by Manzo after several bridal requests came across her desk that were, to say the least, confusing.
Within the last year that number of requests has increased, and there has been question about who approves the shutting down of a public street, and what the neighbors have to say about it.
“Recently I was asked to sign a permit for a wedding on Banyan Street, and I called Bob (Green) and asked him why we were even being contacted,” Manzo said. “Bob said he was a contact person for weddings on public streets. Normally our department wouldn’t even deal with these requests at all, but this is Boca Grande. I have to applaud his becoming involved.”
Whether Bob is still applauding his own decision to get involved remains to be seen. Two brides recently all but went to fisticuffs over an October date for the street, and one bride asked for the street to be shut down for eight hours for her ceremony, which included plans for a platform and altar to be constructed.
Manzo explained that a permit is required for a wedding party to shut down a public thoroughfare, and the guidelines will soon be included on the Lee County web site. One thing that was determined is that going to Green, whose office is located within the Boca Grande Community Center, will be the first step in the process. He will then coordinate with police, fire and other agencies to make sure there are no problems.
Dave Harner from Lee County’s Department of Transportation said that they have no major concerns at this time with wedding parties shutting down a public street for a short period of time, but he wanted to see closures limited to no longer than about two hours.
Skip Perry, an island resident who owns two homes on Banyan Street, attended the meeting and said he’s all for the weddings. His own daughter was married there just two weeks ago, after all. He said he has been in contact with the other residents of the street, and they said he could speak for them as well. Because Banyan Street has always attracted a lot of attention from tourists, he’s become used to everything from people climbing the trees to Tarzan yells at all hours of the day and night.
“It’s one of the only times things are normal on our street,” he said. “We should schedule them all the time. We still have a service entrance we can use. Boca Grande has a long-standing tradition of being a friendly little place, and we’re truly becoming a wedding destination.”
Sgt. Jeff Corkhill, an island law enforcement officer, said he agreed with Skip.
Fire Chief C.W. Blosser said he had no issues with weddings either, but if building a structure that would block the street was proposed he did have a problem with that.
Keep in mind, any person interested in serving alcohol on a public street or having a function with more than 1,000 guests in attendance must fill out additional permits.
These rules will also apply to other large-scale events held on public roads, including 5K and 10K races.
Call Bob Green at 964-2564 for more information.
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