Pier demolition begins

AM Pier building gone
The restaurant and bait shop building at the pier's end was demolished Thursday. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The demolition of the hurricane-damaged Anna Maria City Pier began Monday and the restaurant and bait shop at the pier’s T-end were demolished and removed on Thursday.

St. Petersburgbased Speeler & Associates is doing the majority of the demolition work, and within the next week or two a local crew from Agnelli Pools & Construction will return to remove the remaining engraved wooden pier planks to be stored and used later to build memorial walls. When the engraved planks are removed, Speeler & Associates will demolish the main pier structure and remove the existing wooden pier pilings.

On Wednesday, July 11, Speeler & Associates Vice President Mike Tibbett and company associate Harry Blenker took City Commissioner Brian Seymour, Public Works Manager Dean Jones and some media members on a boat tour of the demolition area that included two barge-mounted excavators docked alongside the vacant pier building.

While Blenker piloted the boat, Tibbett discussed the demolition process that began on Monday, July 9 with the removal of what remained of the metal roof and the remaining contents inside the vacant restaurant and bait shop.

AM Pier Demo Rear
The restaurant and bait shop building was still standing Wednesday afternoon. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

“We go in and take all that stuff out by hand. There were still some things left in there after the hurricane that had to be taken out, including old broken chairs and other stuff. Tomorrow morning, we’ll actually start reaching up with the machine and start pulling the building down,” Tibbett said.

“We want to keep what goes in the water to a minimum,” Tibbett said, noting this helps protect the marine life near the pier. “We’ll take the buildings off the top and all of that will be gone. And then we’ll start taking the T-end deck off in sections.”

The removed materials are loaded into 1,000-pound bags that can be transported by barge to the shoreline dumpsters or to Blenker’s Boatworks & Marina on the Manatee River.

“Most people don’t realize that when you do demolition the material stinks. Everything we can take to Blenker Marina and unload there, that’s an odor that doesn’t come to the city itself. We all live on the beach too, so we have a respect for the beach environment. Everything we can take away without ever taking it to the beach is better for the community,” Tibbett said.

Tibbett also commented on the existing pier’s condition.

“It got beat up pretty bad during the storm and it’s old. There’s some stainless steel bolts in there holding sawdust. Having now gone through it and seeing the guts and inner workings of it, this is absolutely the right decision,” he said of the City Commission’s decision to replace the existing pier.

“If they tried to come in and do repairs to it and leave it here they’d wind up spending an exorbitant amount of money because the replacement and repair would never end. They’d wind up with a new pier anyway at the end of the day. It continues to deteriorate as it’s sitting there and I think the city made the right choice,” Tibbett said.

Seymour’s observations

“Based on the recommendations of all the experts brought in, the pier was beyond the point of salvaging. As much as we’d like to preserve history, in this case it wasn’t a viable option,” Seymour said during the boat tour.

Anna Maria Pier demolition Seymour
Anna Maria Commissioner Brian Seymour toured the demolition site by boat Wednesday afternoon. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

“There’s always going to be those naysayers, but this is showing that there is a plan in place. We’ll get the old pier out and get started on the new pier. I think once people see the progress and the finished product everyone will come around and be happy,” he added.

“I hope that it goes as planned and by the end of next year we have a fully operational pier. It is the number one attraction in Manatee County and it is sorely missed by the community, the business community, the residents and the visitors,” Seymour said.

Plank retrieval

According to Deputy City Clerk Debbie Haynes, 106 pre-claimed engraved planks were returned between July 1 and July 12 to those who wanted their planks back.

“We’re doing pretty well and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from individuals who are very happy and very pleased to be able to get these planks,” Haynes told city commissioners on July 12.

Pre-claimed planks can be retrieved at city hall Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until noon. The retrieval period ends on Tuesday, July 31. For more information, contact the clerk’s office at 941-708-6130.

Anna Maria Pier Planks
Since July 1, more than 100 pre-claimed engraved pier planks have been returned to those who requested them. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Construction bids

Speeler & Associates was one of two firms that responded to the city’s request for proposals (RFP) for the construction phase of the new pier. The two proposals received were opened by City Clerk LeAnne Addy Friday afternoon. Mayor Dan Murphy then sent city commissioners an email update on the bids received.

According to Murphy, Speeler & Associates bid $3.72 million to build a new city pier and Tampa-based ICON bid $4.13 million.

“We will evaluate the bids in accordance with the RFP requirements and grading criteria. We will render a recommendation on these two bids no later than July 25th and review with the full City Commission on July 26th,” Murphy’s email said.

Using concrete pilings and Kebony hardwood decking and siding, the new pier is being designed to look like the old pier it will replace.

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