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Vol 5 No. 39 - June 15, 2005


Horseshoe pits may be paved after all

Critics take aim at compromise parking plan

Sponsors sought for Prelude

Island consolidation debate tonight

Red tag removed from Davis construction site

Holmes Beach woman organizes walk for cancer

John Rudacille retires after 40 years of teaching






Horseshoe pits may be paved after all

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — It's now out in the open. Commissioner Linda Cramer is eyeing the horseshoe pits and shuffleboard courts as a place for public parking and public restrooms.

The Sun, in a series of articles over the past several months, interviewed dozens of residents and horseshoe players who are opposed to dedicating that area to parking.
The spot in question is to the south of city hall. It nestles into an area that has been forested with native trees and plants that have grown up over 10 years. Those plants provide shade for people, habitat for a number of species of birds and are recognized by foresters from the state and surrounding counties as a magnificent example of what can be done with native species.

Several weeks ago, Mayor SueLynn said there was absolutely no move to put parking there.

"There's a rumor going around," she said. "One of the local papers is involved, and it has to do with turning the horseshoe pits into parking. I can assure you that there is no move to turn the horseshoe pits into a parking area."

But twice during the June 9 city commission meeting, that's exactly what was discussed.
Cramer broached the subject during a discussion of parking plan C.

Then when the commission got around to talking about whether or not they should purchase one of the lots at the old Pine Avenue Marina, the matter was discussed again.
Previously, Mayor SueLynn had said if the city did purchase that lot, she'd like to see it used for storage of public works materials and equipment.

There didn't appear to be any support for that.

But at the June 9 meeting, when Cramer suggested using the lot for the horseshoe pits, there appeared to be some interest among commissioners.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he'd like to see the public works building eventually moved to the city hall campus on the south east corner of Pine Avenue and Gulf Drive, with the southern boundary on Spring Avenue.

"That way the entire area around the museum could be open space for recreation and the museum. It's on a canal there," he noted.

Commissioner Carol Ann Magill said she was against spending almost $600,000 for storage for public works, but she wasn't necessarily opposed to the expenditure if it was for open space, for green space.

If the city were to purchase the property, it would have to take out a loan. If it were to take out a loan, it would have to ensure that it didn't fall below a AAA bond rating and that the debt service didn't exceed 10 percent of its operating revenues. Those are requirements spelled out in the city's comprehensive plan.

No action was taken on the purchase of the property, and no action was taken on moving the horseshoe pits. The meeting was a work session, and there are no formal votes at work sessions.

Commissioners agreed to discuss the matter at their next work session July 28, prior to the commission meeting.

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Critics take aim at compromise parking plan

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — The city’s compromise parking plan could be in jeopardy.

Commissioners had agreed in principle to a plan earlier this year that would have allowed parking on alternate sides of beach access streets.

Commissioner Linda Cramer, who was absent from that meeting, challenged the proposal at a meeting last month. At the time, she was ruled out of order.

Now, she is challenging the idea again.

At the commission meeting last week, Cramer declined to be silenced on a point of order when she began criticizing the proposal, called Plan C.

"This is going to affect my residence," Cramer said. "BDI said our streets are too narrow. I want to take the horseshoe pits and move them and use that for parking. And we need a new entrance to city hall. We need a Gulf Drive entrance to city hall."

The commissioner went on to say that the city hall campus would be the best place for parking and she'd also like to see some restrooms — what she called comfort stations — constructed where the horseshoe pits and shuffleboard courts are now.

Deputy Mayor John Quam said he thinks Plan C does meet the original criteria set by the commission for a parking plan.

"It's fair," Quam said. "All the commissioners agreed they feel this is a fair plan. I feel if a particular street petitions for open parking, I'd be in favor of that, but not the other way."
Commissioner Dale Woodland said he wanted to stick to the agenda and work on Plan C.
"I'd like to move forward. This isn't on the agenda. It's the same stuff we've heard for years. I'd like to move forward," Woodland said.

"I represent a fair amount of people," Cramer came back. "And no one wants Plan C."
Public comment appeared to be primarily against the plan.

"I went door-to-door along Oak and Mangrove," said Nigel Brown. "I was able to contact 15 out of 17 residents and they'd like resident-only parking. On Mangrove, eight out of 12 residents feel the same way. On Oak, there are 15 spaces on one side and only one space on the other unless you remove all the intrusions the residents have placed on the right of way."

Joe Romeo, who lives on Park Avenue, also dislikes the plan.

"It's the most inconvenient of all the plans the commission has come up with," he said.
Cramer held her position and said that Plan X, which was a plan that designated specific parking spaces in the beach access zone, was better than Plan C.

"You are confusing me, Commissioner Cramer," Commissioner Duke Miller said. "With all due respect, because you are the one that canned it. (Plan X)"

Cramer had publicly supported Plan X, but then when the plan came to a vote, she voted against it. She said at the time that she hadn't understood exactly what the plan entailed.
In the end, Woodland said he'd like to continue discussing Plan C to work out all the details and put it to a vote.

Commissioners agreed to continue discussions on Plan C at their next work session, which will preceed the commission meeting on July 28.

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Sponsors sought for Prelude

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – It all began as a non-commercial event to bring people together and celebrate the start of the holiday season. After eight years of producing the Christmas Prelude, the original sponsor is turning over the reigns, hopefully to the cities.

The Christmas Prelude is a gathering at the parking lot of the Bridge Street Pier every Thanksgiving evening to listen to Christmas and holiday music. John Chappie, Emily Anne Smith and Lea Ann Bessonette are the principals of Legacy III, the non-profit group that sponsors the Prelude. Since its inception eight years ago, Chappie has become the city’s mayor, Smith became a popular designer and Bessonette, a former city clerk, is her assistant at O’Brien and Smith Architecture. Bessonette said a heavy workload was behind their decision to seek new sponsors.

“We have been blessed with work,” she said. “In the past, Emily allowed me to put in my own time and my office time to put it together, but we have become too busy and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

In their letter to the city, the members of Legacy III said they would donate $1,000 toward the next Prelude and give more than 50 PVC white chairs used in the past for performers and guests to the city for the future events, including Preludes. The letter said they would be happy to share all the information they have with a new chairperson or committee in producing the next Prelude. They said they hoped the city could take over the event, but Chappie is said to be ready to take it a step further.

He met with the other Island mayors at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Monday evening to discuss coordinating all the holiday season activities with the Chamber.
“We want to be the ‘point person’ for the full holiday season,” said Chamber President Don Schroder, who originated the idea. “We will need help from the three cities in the form of a staff person or an elected official.

“All three mayors were for the idea,” he added, “but they will have to get the approval of their city commissions to take the next step.”

Chappie asked the Chamber to include the Prelude because it kicks off the holiday season, according to Schroder.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore said Chappie told the group he would ask the business community to support the Prelude financially. Whitmore said the idea of the Chamber serving as a liaison between the holiday events is a good one.

“They asked us to get copies of our calendars to (Chamber Executive Director) Mary Ann Brockman and we are going to get together again in two weeks to discuss it,” said Whitmore. “He wants the other two cities to encourage their residents to attend the Prelude, just like they do events in their cities.”

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Island consolidation debate tonight

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

There will be a debate among Island mayors and others on Bright House Network's Manatee County Television channel 21 on Wednesday, June 15, from 7 to 8 p.m.
In addition to Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore and Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, Holmes Beach City Commissioner and former mayor Rich Bohnenberger is expected to argue against it. SueLynn and Whitmore have expressed their support of it while Chappie said he leans against it but is open to explore it. If the elected officials agree to put the proposal on the ballot, voters would decide whether to recommend combining all three Island cities into one. One of the most discussed proposals is to have a city manager over one Island government with three boroughs representing the same territory the cities represent now.

The Herald Editorial Page Editor David Clement will moderate the debate, which will be broadcast to Bright House Cable customers on channel 21.

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Red tag removed from Davis construction site

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — In a flurry of events last week, the city was told that it had issued a building permit in error and red tagged a construction site, then it learned that it was not in error and removed the red tag.

It was the latest event in a more than two-year struggle by Frank Davis to build a four-unit condominium at 5622 Gulf Drive. Attorney John Shubin, representing Ruthanne McLean and Barbara Coloney, of 5620 Gulf Drive, has consistently opposed Davis’ plan by filing a series of lawsuits involving the project beginning in August 2003.

Last week, Assistant Building Official Bill Saunders said he issued a building permit to Davis in November of 2004. Saunders said he received a call on June 7 from Shubin protesting the permit because one of the lawsuits he filed has not been resolved yet.

Greg Hootman, the city’s attorney in the issue, told Saunders to red tag the site on June 8. However, on June 9, Hootman reversed his decision.

"He said the city did nothing wrong," Saunders said. "The fact that a lawsuit is going on doesn’t affect the city. Frank Davis can build a four-plex as far as the city’s concerned."
Davis’ contractor Brent Whitehead had protested the red tag in a letter to the city on June 8 noting, "If this project is stopped, this will result in a significant cost to our company for breach of contracts we have with our subcontractors that we will need to buy out of. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars of cost and we will be forced to pass this on to the owner that I’m sure will be looking to the city."

Complex history
The issue began in February 2003, when the board of adjustment granted height and setback variances on the property. However, when Davis presented the site plan to the city commission, Shubin objected and maintained that the 68-foot wide lot is too small and must be 80 feet wide.

The city hired a special counsel to rule on the issue. He said that in order for non-conforming lots to be utilized to a different use, the owner must obtain a variance because the city had no savings clause. A savings clause would allow a non-conforming lot to remain buildable.

The board of adjustment then granted a lot width variance to Davis in February of 2004. Shubin filed an appeal from the board of adjustment’s decision in March 2004, and in April he filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking a reversal of the board’s decision to grant the variance to Davis.

In June 2004, the city commission adopted a savings clause, which would allow any lot of record to be used as permitted by the district regulations in the zone in which the lot is located, even if the lot fails to meet requirements for width or parcel size. However, all other requirements, such as setbacks, must be met.

In another twist, on June 8, Shubin filed a petition with the city requesting that the city declare the land development code inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

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Holmes Beach woman organizes walk for cancer

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – This year, more than 200,000 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 of those will lose their life.

Nancy Sanders wants to help in the fight against the disease and she found a way last year. This year, she and several friends and relatives will do something to help fund research for a cure.

Sanders and at least 15 other women will be participating in the Breast Cancer Three-Day Walk for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation from Oct. 7 to 9, 60 miles from Clearwater to Tampa, as the Team Hope for Hooters.

The team currently has 16 members, and she hopes for more. "We hope to have 20," she said. "We have already raised $19,000 and we hope to get $30,000."

It all began when she heard about the event held last year in Manatee County.

"I started organizing a team for this year's event," she said. "I started recruiting neighbors, friends and relatives."

Five of the walkers are from Holmes Beach, including Sandee Pruett, Peggy Douglas, Ilona Kenrick, Michele Schenk and Sanders. They have been practicing by walking on the Island.
"We have a training schedule posted on our website," she said. "We have been averaging 15 to 20 miles per week."

Sanders has done volunteer work at hospitals and for food banks over the years, and she feels this is something she can do to help fight a problem that affects many people.

"I have four sisters and many nieces," she said. "Any one of them could be affected, so it's important to me."

She hopes to start something that will become an annual event for herself and others who participate on the team.

"We might walk in another city next year," she said. "It would be fun to go somewhere different and participate."

To sign up for the team or to donate money, call Nancy Sanders at 778-7979 or e-mail her at

For information on the three-day walk, log on to

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John Rudacille retires after 40 years of teaching

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — For John Rudacille, it’s always been about the children.

"My niche was being with the kids," he said of his 40-year career teaching band. "Music is part of everyday life. When they help produce it, they have a better appreciation for it."
Rudacille spent the last 27 years teaching band at King Middle School, which gave him a chance to meet many Island sixth-graders.

"Every sixth-grader had to take three weeks of band and three weeks of orchestra," he explained. "The ones who stayed in band were with me for three years. All the time I see my Island kids that I taught through the years."

Rudacille said he began playing in the band in high school and loved it.

"My friend and I took off to college to become band directors. I got my undergraduate degree at Concord College in West Virginia and my master’s degree in music education at Radford College in Virginia."

He taught for five years in Virginia before moving to Manatee County in 1970.

"My parents brought us to Florida when we were kids and I had my heart set on coming here ever since," he explained. "I loved the beach and the sunshine. My friends said I was crazy because they were having problems with integration here at the time."

He began his Manatee County teaching career at Braden Middle School. He was there for four years, then moved to Sugg Middle School when it opened.

Nancy Carson, who was the principal at King Middle, hired him to open King in 1978. That was where he met his wife, Chris, who was teaching orchestra there.

"I had a great career," he said. "I was teaching an elective class, so I dealt with a lot of super students. It makes a big difference."

Rudacille said he was especially pleased when students came back to visit.

"When the kids come back and tell you that you made a difference in their lives, that’s what makes it worthwhile."

Rudacille said he has no specific plans for retirement.

"I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have things in the house and yard that have been neglected that I have to take care of first, then I’ll decide what I want to do. Chris will have to support me," he said with a laugh.

The Rudacilles have two sons, Scott, an attorney with the law firm Kirk Pinkerton in Bradenton, and Mark, a student at the University of Florida.

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