Vol 6 No. 23 - March 1, 2006


Museum still wants Seafood Shack

Too late to move pipes, county says

Heritage Day set for Saturday

Commission: Just say no to gas tax hike

Mayor, commission spar over control of line of credit

Chiles seeks meeting on parking

Fines in code violation case now surpass $600,000

Bids are in on drainage project




Museum still wants Seafood Shack

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – County officials will keep trying to find funds to buy the Seafood Shack restaurant as a site for the Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum at Cortez, according to museum coordinator Roger Allen.

Manatee County commissioners voted last month against buying the restaurant, citing price, lack of grant funding and potential traffic and safety problems stemming from a proposed boat ramp.

The office of the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court, which oversees historic preservation in the county, is again looking for funding, this time without the boat ramp proposal, Allen said.

The site is appraised at $9.7 million, less than owner Ham Jones told the county that he wants, and more than the county administrator said the county is willing to pay.

The museum has been slated for the 1912 Cortez schoolhouse, which is being restored on 119th Street. Last week, workers installed a new tin roof and windows, and puttied, primed and painted much of the building, Allen said, adding that the renovations may be completed later this month.

Meanwhile, the Burton Store is scheduled to be moved from its storage lot in west Cortez to its new home next to the schoolhouse in April, he said, adding that a Community Development Block Grant will pay to restore the historic building over the course of the next year.<< Top


Too late to move pipes, county says

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Facing a shortage of time, Manatee County has recommended that the renourishment pipeline stay in the sand from Manatee County Beach to Katie Pierola Park to ensure that the contractor finishes the job that began last July.

That’s the word from Manatee County Ecosystems Admini
strator Charlie Hunsicker, who gave three reasons for his decision.

He said the first was the county does not have survey information on the street-ends where the pipe could be stored until they could be reassembled in about two weeks.

The second was even if they knew where the street ends were, there was not enough time to disassemble the pipeline and then reassemble it by April 1, when the contractor, Goodloe Marine, Inc., is supposed to resume renourishment.

Finally, he said disassembling the pipe and storing it at one spot, such as Coquina Beach, would take even more time.

"I know the hardships are real for the hotel and motel owners along the beach," he said, "but we have run out of time to get an effective and practical solution."

Furthermore, Hunsicker said he doubted that there would be enough time to renourish the beaches of Anna Maria in a second project, as originally planned.

"We contacted FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and asked them to extend the permitting for the Anna Maria project until March 2007 and will address that project later," he said.

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said she was disappointed that her beaches would not be protected through this hurricane season.

"However, I would not want this nightmare on our beaches until they finish the project south of us," she said.

Hunsicker said until the renourishment resumes, they have asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make sure the people and beaches are protected from the pipeline.

"We are asking the Corps to have Goodloe provide more pedestrian walkovers along the pipe," he said. "More importantly, we want them to make sure they pay close attention to the grading and leveling out of the escarpments that will form between the pipeline and the water levels during storms between now and April 1."

Hunsicker had originally planned to use a required tilling of the beaches at this time to prepare for turtle season as a reason to require that the pipeline be disassembled after the Corps took several weeks to ponder whether it should do so. He said that tilling will still take place, but they will work around the pipeline.

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore recommended that the county drop its demand to disassemble the pipeline. She changed her mind after the Corps delayed its decision on the pipeline to the point where she determined there was too little time.

"We want to get this thing done and I’m sorry we could not get any relief for the tourist industry, but we tried," she said.

The renourishment project was put on hold in December when Goodloe said it could not dredge sand accurately and safely during the winter storm season that causes high waves in the Gulf.

When Goodloe took its dredge and supply boat back to home port, it left the pipeline intact. Despite a series of walkover ramps made from sand, tourists complained that the pipeline blocked access to the water and hindered their view of the Gulf from expensive beachfront resort rooms. Resort owners began to report room cancellations and customers demanding reduced rates.

The Corps said three weeks ago that it would order the pipeline be disassembled after Hunsicker said it would interfere with the tilling project, but there was no action. The Corps said it was negotiating with the contractor about the cost of removing the pipeline and who should pay for it. Last week, Goodloe project engineer Ben Goodloe said he had never received a written request for a cost estimate..<< Top

Heritage Day set for Saturday

ANNA MARIA — The Anna Maria Island Historical Society hopes to make history at its annual Heritage Day on March 4.

The event will feature two parades on Pine Avenue, one at noon for decorated bicycles and one at 2 p.m. for costumed pets and their owners.

Craftspeople will demonstrate old-time pursuits including whittling, basket weaving and
quilting, while historical society members stroll the grounds in period costumes, relating Anna Maria’s history.

Artists and craftspeople will display their wares and their techniques, while bakers sell Early Settler’s bread and food vendors satisfy other gastronomic cravings.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can tour the Island Historical Museum, Belle Haven Cottage and Ole City Jail at 402 Pine Ave., accompanied by music on the porch by the Belle Haven Preservation Jazz Band, Jimi Gee and the Swinging Cats of Rhythm and Tom Benjamin.

Proceeds from Heritage Day maintain the Island Historical Museum and Belle Haven Cottage.

For more information, call 778-0492.


Commission: Just say no to gas tax hike

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Commissioners in this Island city are unanimous in their opposition to the county’s proposed increase in the tax on gasoline.

All five cities in the county were asked to approve a resolution supporting a nickel a gallon on the purchase of fuel.

Mayor SueLynn outlined the reasons for the county’s desire to raise the tax.

"Don’t shoot the messenger," she began. The county hasn’t raised the gas tax since 1985. There is now a 7-cent local tax and a 4-cent state tax on gasoline. The county proposes to raise the local option tax to 11-cents a gallon.

The county’s talking points state that with inflation, 50 percent of the purchasing power of the 7 cents has been lost. Further, there is less and less federal money coming to the states for roads.

Another point in favor of the additional tax, according to the county, is that the people who are actually using the roads, including tourists, would pay a lot of it.

The city would realize about $25,000 a year from the proposed increase.

At that Commissioners Dale Woodland and Duke Miller’s hands shot into the air.

"Betcha I’m more opposed to this than you are," said Woodland.

"Betcha you’re not," was Miller’s comeback. "We’re 5 percent of the population, but we pay for 20 percent of the general fund out here. Don’t be asking our residents to be support a tax for something outside our area, thank you very much."

Deputy Mayor John Quam said he’s heard from a lot of citizens that they are concerned about the high taxes residents of the Island are paying.

"Here’s an opportunity for us to deny support of a tax," he said. "The ad valorem tax has increased tremendously, and it appears to me things are not being managed properly."

At one point, it appeared that the commission would draft a resolution against the county’s proposed tax, but in the end, they the consensus was to just take no action..<< Top

Mayor, commission spar over control of line of credit

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Calling them micro-managers, Mayor SueLynn blasted commissioners for the requirements they are writing into an ordinance that will govern every aspect of a $1.5 million line of credit that the city is poised to draw down.

"With all due respect to the commission, I believe that the commissioners are crossing the line into a dimension that disrespects the charter," the mayor said.

She said the charter assigns the process of setting the budget to the mayor and therefore the process of handling a line of credit belongs to the mayor.

"I feel really, really strongly this (ordinance) crosses the line from legislation into administration and for me and the staff, it crosses the line and is insulting."

Deputy Mayor John Quam, who drew up the language for a resolution that would govern how the line of credit is handled, said it’s a question of having formal procedures.

"I need something formal where the procedure for the next administration for years from now is clear," he said.

"It then will be a precedent," the mayor retorted. "We don’t have a written procedure for how the budget is done." She added that there is no necessity for a written procedure for how a line of credit is managed.

Commissioner Chris Tollette asked City Attorney Jim Dye for his opinion.

Dye said he couldn’t say one way or the other.

"Contract approval is a duty of the commission, unless the commission has set up to a certain limit that doesn’t come before them," Dye said. "Once the contract is approved, then the administration carries out the terms of the contract."

Dye said that a line of credit is one component of the budget but it’s an in-house decision as to whether or not there’s a written procedure.

Tollette then asked whether or not the city could proceed to draw on the line of credit and then draft some procedures if problems arise.

"This is one of the reasons I made the proposal," said Commissioner Dale Woodland, who had his own suggestions for handling the line of credit. "It’s to avoid problems, not wait ‘till they happen in the future."

Commissioner Duke Miller said he thinks having a written procedure is wise and in the best interests of the mayor.

"If I were you, I’d want this," he said. "At the end, I’d want to know I that I wasn’t going to be second-guessed every which way. The charter says the mayor conducts business at the pleasure of the commission.

"I’d look at the guidelines and then six months down the road when this or that went wrong – especially when we are looking at borrowing money – I feel very comfortable saying it’s no big deal. This way the train won’t get off the track," Miller said.

Woodland wants specific counting of the details of the line of credit.

"We really need to have our hands around the full life of the line of credit," he said. "The beginning, the middle and then end."

Miller pointed out that Quam’s proposal set guidelines for handling the line of credit, and Woodland’s proposal set up specific ways of informing the commission of the status of the handling of the money. He suggested that the two proposals could be combined into one resolution, which will be attached to the ordinance that will authorize the establishment of the line of credit.

That money is only to be used for drainage, storm water management and road projects.
Commissioners voted unaninimously on the adoption of the resolution combining Woodland’s and Quam’s proposals..<< Top


Chiles seeks meeting on parking

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – City hall has a magnificent view. The BeachHouse restaurant to the north, volleyball courts in front and Australian pines to the south frame the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. However, the city has a problem with cars parking on the sand among the pine trees and wants them to stop.

The city’s Scenic Highway Committee addressed the situation while looking at overall plans for landscaping and beautifying Gulf Drive. At one time, the committee considered working with BeachHouse owner Ed Chiles to take down the trees and set up a parking lot with one entrance and one exit, but there was no follow-up – until now.

Building Official Ed McAdam has sent a letter to Chiles telling him to install signs and barriers to advise motorists that they cannot park there. The letter also told him that he would have to seek a building permit from the city and approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

McAdam's letter points out that the land up to 25 feet west of Gulf Drive is designated as recreation/open space on the city’s future land use map. It says the land beyond that toward the Gulf of Mexico is designated as preservation. Parking is not allowed within those designations.

The letter warns that the city would install posts and signage at the city property along the First Street North beach access to prevent parking there also. It has already placed tape along Gulf Drive to stop cars from parking.

The letter gives Chiles until March 5 to erect the signage and barriers to prevent parking across the street from city hall.

When asked why the city took this latest action, McAdam said that BeachHouse customers use it, and the city’s intent was to let beach-goers park there.

"It should be for recreational use, not commercial," he said, "and we want to keep vehicles out of the dune areas."

Meanwhile, Chiles said the letter was a surprise.

"We have told him in the past we want to work with him," said Chiles. "There is a desperate need for parking in that area, and I thought we were in agreement about that."

Chiles said he would try arrange a meeting with McAdam or maybe the Scenic Highway Committee to see if they can work out an agreement that would allow parking there. He said he has been paying taxes on that land since he bought the BeachHouse 14 years ago and would love to be able to use some of it to alleviate the parking problem. He said he has always tried to cooperate with the city.

"I spent $40,000 on lights in the north parking lot to make it turtle friendly," he said. "Then, the city said it had a problem with the north end of my lot where people had been pulling out into traffic and I said, ‘OK, fine," and I blocked it off. I have always done what they have asked."

<< Top


Fines in code violation case now
surpass $600,000

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The city may take a wait-and-see attitude on its oldest code enforcement case because the "tax man cometh."

The code enforcement board discussed its possible foreclosure on a house at 2417 Gulf Drive owned by Patrick Handley at an update meeting last Thursday night. The city placed a lien on the house, which was found to be in violation of the code for being in structural and landscape disrepair, in July 1999 and fined the owner $250 per day. At the meeting, code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon said that the fines now amounted to $603,250. She said it appeared the owner had tried to fix up the outside, but she had been unable to inspect the property.

"Outside, it still looks well," Rathvon said, "however, we have no idea how it looks on the inside."

Rathvon said that the owner had not paid his property taxes in the past few years, and the government had now placed a tax lien on the property. She added that the tax certificate had been sold and that the owner of the certificate could force a tax sale of the house in July.

"The city could foreclose on the house," said city attorney Ricinda Perry, "but when the tax certificate is purchased, the foreclosure would not survive the tax lien."

Perry said the tax lien is about $40,000 and that the city would get whatever is left from the sale of the house following the payment of the tax lien. She said if that is less than the code enforcement lien, the city could collect the rest from the purchaser of the house.

"The purchaser of the house cannot get title to it until the liens are satisfied," she said. "Of course, someone might purchase the house to live in it, not expecting to take title to it."

Building Official Ed McAdam suggested the board continue this case for a month while the code enforcement officer looks into it further and suggests an action at the next board meeting. The board agreed.

In other action, the board agreed to close the case of a beachfront property at 2518 Gulf Drive where the owner was told to remove a large planter that was infringing on a city beach access. The owner had removed the planter, but not the sand that had been in it, and the city determined it posed a hazard. Rathvon reported the sand had finally been removed.

The board also closed a case against Rita Ingram, who owns the Laundromat at 101 Seventh Street. She had been ordered to put in handicap parking and to paint stripes in the parking lot.

The final case was against the property owners at 800 and 901 Gulf Drive. The owners were ordered to improve a parking lot at one property and fence off beachfront property to prevent people from parking there. The owners, Wendy and George Kokolis, filed suit against the city, and the legal action had recently been transferred from state to federal court. << Top


Bids are in on drainage project

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The low bid for the Gladiolus/North Shore drainage project came in too high to allow for engineering fees.

The city has budgeted $135,000 for the project. The Southwest Floridaw Water Management District has approved a matching grant for an additional $135,000, making $270,000 that the city has in its coffers to pay for the project.

DeJonge Excavating, a Venice company, came in with the low bid at $263,119.29, making it the company likely to win the contract to do the project, which will run in the alley between North Shore Drive and Gladiolus Street. A shallow swale will run in the alley there from Jacaranda to Hibiscus avenues with a turn by Crescent Drive across North Bay Boulevard to a filtered outlet into the bay.

City Engineer Tom Wilcox, of Baskerville-Donovan, opened four bids Feb. 23.

"That’s good for a little project like this," Wilcox said. "I’m really happy with that."

The bids ranged from DeJonge’s low to Westra Construction of Palmetto’s high of $448,253.38. The two other companies that submitted bids were Adkins Contracting, Inc., of Ruskin, and ET MacKenzie, of Bradenton.

Wilcox said Swiftmud had left the door open to come back to them for an increase after the bids came in, but it’s unusual for the water management district to increase the amount of a grant after the fact.

Deputy Mayor John Quam said he hasn’t seen the bids yet and thus doesn’t know how the commission will handle the costs for the engineering.

"It’s something we’ll have to look at," he said.

Construction could begin as early as June.<< Top

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