Vol 5 No. 47 - August 10, 2005

 

Plans for pier complex approved

Beach crew, resort owners make peace

Room rates, occupancy up in June

Commission going forward with Plan C for parking

Consolidation preliminary study sought

Hurricane season forecast highest ever predicted

Commission gets briefing on Gladiolus/North Shore drainage project

Volleyball tourney this weekend at Coquina

 

 

 

 

Plans for pier complex approved

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH — After two sessions on the subject, commissioners approved the conceptual plans for the city’s pier complex that were unveiled by Emily Anne Smith last week.

In a special work session held Wednesday on the plans, Smith said the design style is old Florida waterfront and includes a bait and tackle shop, a dock master station, a restaurant, bathrooms and separate docks to accommodate a water taxi and visitors.

According to the plan, the dock master station, tackle shop and water taxi and visitor docks are on the south side of the present roundabout at the pier end of Bridge Street. The restaurant is in the same location as it is now. Restrooms and a covered boardwalk for fishermen and strollers to reach the far end of the pier are shown on the south side of the pier.

The restaurant includes 1,524 square feet of indoor dining and 1,187 square feet of outdoor dining with minimum seating for 60 indoors and 56 on the deck. The plans show no pedestrian traffic through the restaurant.

Smith said the total cost is estimated at $515,736 but stressed, "It has been extremely volatile in the last year. I have met with several building contractors to try and give you as close an estimate as we possible could, but there’s not way under the sun to for us to know what our exact cost is going to be until we bid this with the general contractor."

Construction options
She said the plans are adaptable according to the commission’s wishes. The two construction options are to do it all at once or phase it, but she said phasing would be costlier.

"There’s no staging area for this construction other than Bridge Street," she explained. "There’s no place for materials or workmen later to come back and construct the second phase. We’re concerned about the construction taking place during and interrupting the restaurant business with large equipment and noise."

She said if the city would seek bids for the concessionaire now, she could design the kitchen to his/her specifications, including accommodations for any special appliances.

Smith said completion would be 41 weeks from the day the commission votes to go ahead. She said once the commission approves the concept, she can make detailed drawings needed for the permitting, including a permit for the southern walkway over leased submerged lands.

Commission comments
"This is what this meeting is about — to decide what we want and what we like and don’t like," Mayor John Chappie told commissioners.

Commissioner John Shaugnessy said the city should concentrate on getting the restaurant open in order to produce revenue and then phase the rest and seek grants to fund it.

Pier liaison Bill Shearon said he agreed with Building Official Ed McAdam’s recommendation for two sets of restrooms — one for the restaurant and pier area and one for the mooring area with showers for boaters.

Chappie said they could establish a location for restrooms for the mooring field and then if the mooring field plan proceeds, they could add the second set of restrooms.

Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said commissioners should consider rehabilitating the existing building rather then demolishing it. She said too much of the restaurant is being enclosed, and it changes the ambiance. She also said that the water taxi stop should be on the north side of the pier, and it should have a floating dock.

"We’re only enclosing the interior hallway," Smith replied. "There’s no additional area being enclosed. What has been enclosed is the old bait area and storage room and the walkway that everybody wanted to eliminate so that the fishermen wouldn’t be walking through the restaurant."

Chappie concurred with Smith and said the commission told the design team to put the boardwalk on the side because concessionaires complained about people walking through the restaurant carrying fishing gear. He also said the building is slated for demolition because it doesn’t meet code.

McAdam agreed and pointed out, "The existing structure is compromised already with rotting wood and with the number of code requirements needed to operate it, it would be like putting lipstick on a sow."

Architect Tom O’Brien said the water taxi dock is proposed to be floating, and it was put on the south side to separate it from the dock on the north side, which serves private boats. He pointed out that the dock on the north side is in front of the Pines Mobile Home Park and would not be the most prudent location for a public transportation dock.

Commissioners deferred a decision until their regular Thursday meeting in order to consider the comments they heard and a memo submitted by McAdam regarding changes to the plans.

Thursday’s issues
James Brown, a resident of Pines Mobile Home Park, which is adjacent to the pier, asked commissioners to address two problems he has had in the past.

"The biggest one is the vicinity of the garbage and trash, which is within four feet of my patio and home," Brown said. "There’s been a problem with bugs, pests and smell. The other problem is this big four-foot fan that faces my house and blows out grease. Keep me in mind."

Chappie thanked Brown and noted, "Now is the time to voice your opinion."

McAdam presented a revised memo of changes. In addition to adding a second set of restrooms with showers for the mooring area, changes included improving the dumpster and washdown areas, reviewing plans for food preparation areas and sanitary facilities in the kitchen and reviewing the cashier’s control of the collecting payment.

Phillips again objected to the loss of a vista, this time due to the dock master station and bait shop.

"You will not be able to drive through the roundabout and have a vista. It will be gone. I’d rather see a taller, slimmer building."

Shearon said making the buildings taller would require elevators and trigger additional Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. He said the buildings were separated so they wouldn’t overpower the restaurant.

There was some disagreement on whether to include plans for the mooring field in the pier plans when submitting them for pre-application review to the various state and county agencies.

Chappie said he thought they had to include everything in the package.

"You probably want to approach these two things as separate applications," City Attorney Ralf Brooks replied. "The mooring field is much more in depth, and it will take a lot longer in time (to go through the permitting and approval process).

Phillips disagreed and said, "I’m not against submitting it as part of the total conceptual plan because it is my understanding that they will be reviewing the facilities that we’re planning that must accompany a mooring field."

Shearon said he couldn’t make a decision without more information, and Chappie directed him to present further information and a timeline at the Aug. 18 meeting.

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Beach crew, resort owners make peace

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Resort owners were relieved Thursday when beach renourishment contractor Goodloe Marine agreed to reduce its fenced work zones to 1,000 feet of beach at a time.

Goodloe has been fencing off larger areas where it pumps sand onto the beach, forcing tourists to walk several blocks around the work zone to get to the water, resort owners say.

The inconvenience has caused some visitors to check out early, and that’s coming at a particularly bad time, motel operator Jeff Gerry said.

"We’ve had four hurricanes, two red tides and our taxes have tripled in the last three years," he said, adding that in two previous beach renourishment projects, his property was only impacted for two days, while this time, it’s been 16 days.

Ben Goodloe offered to trim down the work zone to 1,000 feet during a meeting at the Manatee public beach on Thursday.

"A thousand feet sounds great," Gerry said.

"We can live with that," agreed Don Schroeder, president of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, which has received complaints from several resort owners.

The zone is fenced off for the safety of beachgoers, Goodloe said, three of whom have jumped the fence and cut through the work area, causing him to hire a person just to guard the perimeter.

"Safety requirements are not going away," said Ron Rutger, of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is supervising the project. A death on Florida’s east coast during a beach renourishment operation has made dredging companies even more cautious, he added.

"We’re trying to cooperate and make it safe and convenient for everyone," said Bettie Goodloe, adding that moving the posts and fences that designate the work zone is labor-intensive and requires heavy equipment.

The work zone is moving steadily south as the renourishment work is completed in each section, she said, but there’s no guarantee how long the dredging equipment will be in front of any particular place.

"I can’t tell if a dredge is going to break down tomorrow," she said, adding that the company was delayed shortly after work began by equipment failure and the arrival of Hurricane Dennis, setbacks that cost the company $60,000 a day in payroll.

If another breakdown occurs or a storm arises, the work zone will be reduced to the smallest area possible, she said.

The work is expected to reach the Manatee public beach in about a month, and renourishment officials are working to make sure the fenced work zone is not in the middle of the public beach during Labor Day weekend.

Wherever it is, the work zone will be shortened as much as possible over the holiday weekend, Ben Goodloe said.

"We’ll consolidate as much as we can, but we can’t stop working."

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Room rates, occupancy up in June

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

Island room rates are twice what they are on the mainland, and that’s an indication that new tourism strategies are working, according to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

New Tourist Development Council member Sean Murphy noticed the rate discrepancy at his first TDC meeting on Monday in a written report listing average daily mainland rates in June at $68.91 while June rates on the Island average $150.93. Other months show similar patterns.

"We’re seeking and getting people with a higher income," CVB Director Larry White said, adding that the CVB has dropped advertising in magazines aimed at lower-income readers and is focusing on higher-income visitors.

In a recent survey, he said, the people complaining that they could no longer afford to visit the Island were mostly 65 and older, the snowbird population.

"Income was up and age was down. That’s what we’re looking for," he said.

Murphy, a restaurateur, suggested that perhaps Island hoteliers were overpriced, but White disagreed.

"Don’t mess with your rate, because you’ve worked too hard to get it," he advised Island accommodations operators, explaining that Orlando hotels slashed rates after September 11, 2001 and some have never been able to command their former rates.

Hotel and motel room rates on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and the whole county rose in June, and the occupancy rate rose on the Island, according to the latest statistics from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Daily room rates on Anna Maria Island rose from $142.99 in June 2004 to $150.93 this June, while in the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key, rates rose from $135.27 to $154.70.

Average daily room rates on the mainland rose from $62.95 last June to $68.91 this June, and rates in Manatee County, including the islands, increased from $108.03 in June 2004 to $119.65 in June 2005.

While occupancy rates for June dropped both countywide and on Longboat Key from June of last year, they increased one percent on Anna Maria Island from 56.6 percent to 57.6 percent.


In the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key, occupancy dipped from 69.4 percent in June 2004 to 58.7 percent this year.

Countywide hotel and motel occupancy dropped slightly from 62.5 percent in June 2004 to 62.4 percent in June 2005.

 

Commission going forward with Plan C for parking

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — City commissioners have decided to move on to the next step with a compromise parking plan.

The scene was the Aug. 4 work session. Deputy Mayor John Quam and Commissioners Carol Ann Magill and Dale Woodland were in favor of moving forward with what's being called Plan C.

Quam said he thinks it's time to make a decision on a parking plan — right or wrong.

"With Plan C, parking will be fairly distributed," Quam said. "The majority of our residents are weary of this subject being discussed, rehashed and put on the back burner. They want us to make a decision.

"Also, Anna Maria's image to other county cities continues to be weakened because of our indecisiveness on this matter."

Plan C, for compromise, was proposed by Commissioner Duke Miller in April. It would include a limited number of legal public parking spaces on one side of city streets in the beach access zone. Parking would be allowed on one side of the street only. The side of the streets where parking is allowed would alternate on an annual basis.

Commissioner Linda Cramer has strong objections to Plan C, and she brought some petitions from residents on streets in the beach access zone, including one from the residents of Palmetto Avenue where she lives.

"Parking Plan C is very restrictive to the family, friends and guests of people who live in the beach access zone," Cramer said. "The residents feel that you are not giving them the opportunity to voice their opinion in the beach access zone. I think the fact that the residents are not here at this particular meeting to participate in this particular parking plan at this particular time of year isn't particularly fair."

Cramer cited a study by the city's consulting engineers that stated that most city streets in Anna Maria are not wide enough to accommodate parking. She added that she doesn't think there's adequate room on the streets for Plan C, and she said she had spoken to planning consultant Alan Garrett at length about Plan C, and he agreed with her. Garrett was not at the meeting and could not be reached for comment.

Quam asked his fellow commissioners what they thought the next step should be. The consensus was to put the plan onto the agenda of the next voting meeting.

Cramer said she wanted Garrett to be asked to attend the meeting. Magill, Woodland and Quam declined.

Several people from the audience spoke — all against Plan C.

"I'm against this plan, period,” resident Karen DiCostanzo stated. "Commissioner Miller was well-intentioned when he offered a compromise, but we're being compromised — the residents."

DiCostanzo said other plans have been scuttled and asked, “ Why not this one?” The easiest plan would be residents only, DiCostanzo said, and she vowed to let commissioners know how the plan was proceeding on her street.

"I'm telling you now that if this goes through and I'm awakened at 2 in the morning, I'm going to call all of you."

After several residents had spoken out against the plan and a couple had turned petitions in to the minutes clerk, the commission decided to ask the city attorney to prepare an ordinance for Plan C. They'll have the first reading at their Sept. 9 work session and decide at that time when they want to have the second reading and public hearing on the ordinance. At that point, Cramer rose from her chair, came down from the dais, passed her petitions in to the clerk and left the commission chambers.

Miller was out of town and didn't attend the meeting.

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Consolidation preliminary study sought

By Pay Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — A group of citizens met Saturday at the Beach Bistro to continue its discussion of consolidation issues.

"The idea is not to have people from each city (represented at the meetings), but to have people who are interested in consolidation," Holmes Beach Commissioner Don Maloney explained.

The Island’s three mayors criticized group members after their first meeting. Following that meeting, Maloney presented suggested language for a non-binding referendum asking voters if they want the cities to embark on a study of consolidation. The mayors said they were charged with that task and that the group was undermining their efforts.

Maloney said Saturday that the group should have asked each city to approve a resolution to form a group to study consolidation. After some discussion, group members agreed that Maloney would ask Holmes Beach commissioners this week to do just that.

Group member Don Knode said he had contacted Harry Hayes, of the University of Georgia Institute of Government, and Hayes offered several suggestions:

• Send him the budgets of the three Island cities so he can study them for duplication of services and assign costs to the services.

• Once he has those figures, Hayes and a colleague would come to the Island to make an issues assessment with a joint consolidation study committee appointed by the three Island governments.

• Hayes would create a preliminary report on how the consolidation would be facilitated. He said this could be accomplished prior to the November election.

• If a straw vote in November is positive, Hayes could proceed with an in-depth report. Group members directed Knode to ask Hayes what he would charge to complete an issues assessment and preliminary report.

Members also directed Maloney to contact a former city manager regarding a cost estimate for the in-depth study.

"It’s a good step forward," Knode said. "I hope the three mayors and city commissions look at this in a positive way."

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Hurricane season forecast highest ever predicted

Batten down the hatches. We can expect even more hurricane activity than was earlier predicted. Dr. William Gray has just issued an update for the 2005 hurricane forecast.

"Information obtained through July 2005 indicates that the 2005 hurricane season will be an extremely active one," a release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states. "We estimate that the 2005 season will have 20 named storms (average is 9.6), 10 hurricanes (average is 5.9)."

Dr. Gray predicts that of those 10 hurricanes, six will be intense. He also notes that the expected hurricane activity is 235 percent of what the long-term average predicts.

"The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimate to be well above the long-period average," the report continues. "This year is expected to continue the past decade trend of above-average hurricane seasons.

The early August forecast is based on newly devised forecasts for August, September and October. It uses 55 years of past global statistics.

The revision upward in the number of predicted storms was due to the seven named storms and two major hurricanes that have already formed this season.

This is the highest forecast of hurricane activity NOAA has ever issued.

The report states that there's a 77 percent chance that a major hurricane — that is a category 3,4,or 5 — will strike land in the United States. The average is 52 percent.

There is a 58 percent chance that one will strike the U.S. East Coast, including the Florida peninsula. The average is 31 percent.

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Commission gets briefing on Gladiolus/North Shore drainage project

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — There have been several changes made to a drainage project jointly funded by the city and the Southwest Water Management District (Swiftmud) as a result of resident concerns.

That's the word from Tom Wilcox, an engineer with the city's consulting firm, Baskerville-Donovan, Inc. The $276,000 project is designed to create a swale in the alleyway that runs behind North Shore Drive and then south on Gladiolus and out to the bay where Gladiolus makes a sharp turn. The swale will be 10 feet wide and will slope gently down to a depth of no more than a foot at the center of the swale.

"We think we have a pretty good set of plans, Wilcox told commissioners. "We've had a couple of public meetings — good ones. I hope we have addressed most of the concerns."

The plans include several areas where water will go through a filtering process before being discharged into the finger canals in the area. Dennis Ulanch had concerns about those filters.

"Is there funding to keep those filters clean?" he asked.

"That's part of the agreement," Wilcox answered. " The city has to agree to maintain the filters and the ditch. Every 24 months they have to re-certify them."

Wilcox informed commissioners that they were looking at the third set of plans.

"The first ones went over like a lead balloon," he said. "These are friendlier plans that came from the neighborhood meetings."

He noted that there had been an outcry against taking down some of the larger trees in the alleyway to accommodate the project.

"In my opinion all the trees that are grand and nice that can be saved are being saved," he said.

And instead of running straight through from the beginning to the end, residents who use the alleyway as access to their property have been accommodated by areas they can drive over to get to their property. A pipe has been included with a drive-over for use by a disabled veteran who crosses the alley to get from his residence to his parents' residence.

Clarence Jones said he had no problems with the south end of the project, but he questioned whether the swale could be installed there while leaving out the north end of the project area where he said there currently isn't a problem.

Wilcox explained that the drainage basin is interconnected and the plan must go forward as designed.

"It will clean up the water in that area before it goes into the canal," Wilcox explained.

Meanwhile, Ellen Jones had a concern about pollution in an open drainage swale.

"I don't want to have other people's pesticides coming onto our property where I ride my bike and walk a lot," she said. "Every time I go past (existing) ditches, they seem to smell a lot."

Wilcox acknowledged Jones' point.

"Pesticides are an issue and probably only education and enforcement can persuade people not to put so much fertilizer and pesticides on their properties," he said. "There is something that is called sheet flow when you have a heavy rain fall that's a problem with fertilizer and pesticide runoff that's going to get out into the bay. This project will catch the first flush of that runoff."

Wilcox added that the project can't solve all problems, but it can help overall.

Wilcox told commissioners that they should see some work begin before the end of the year.

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Volleyball tourney this weekend at Coquina

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH — At least 300 Pro-Am teams are expected to kick up the sand at the Hess Express/Zephyrhills Beach Volleyball Tournament at Coquina Beach on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Players will use 20 to 25 courts and the public is welcome to watch the action. Tables and chairs will be provided. Food will be available and vendors will offer T-shirts and other items.

The schedule is as follows:

• Friday, Aug. 12: 3 p.m., pre games and warm up session; evening, pre-event cocktail party at Hooters.

• Saturday, Aug. 13: 7 to 7:30 a.m. open division athlete check-in; 7:45 to 8:15 a.m., check in for all divisions and open division captains’ meeting; 8:30 a.m., captains’ meetings and division play begins; 9:45 a.m., junior league clinic check-in; 10 a.m., junior league clinic begins; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., games and watermelon eating contest; 1 p.m., players begin championship brackets; 2 to 2:30 p.m., the Zephyrhills serve contest; 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Red Bull hour and Bud Light media hour; 4 to 6 p.m., championship matches on center court; 7 p.m. to midnight, Bud Light players party on the beach.

• Sunday, Aug. 14: 8 a.m., athlete check-in; 9 a.m., play begins; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., games and watermelon-eating contest; 1 p.m., players begins championship brackets; 4 to 6 p.m., championship matches.

The tournament is in its fifth year and is sponsored by Wedebrock Real Estate. The event is hosted by the Florida Gulf Coast Sports Commission, Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Other sponsors include Days Inn, Subway at 4850 Cortez Road and 3541 First Street in Bradenton, Hooters, The Buzz WCQT, the Whammer WAMR and Florida Gold Coast Distributors.

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