BRADENTON BEACH - State officials
have scaled back the Island's beleaguered beach renourshiment
project, lopping off the final 3,000 feet and ending
it at Bridge Street.
If it even gets that far.
The project, which must be finished by June 1, has
been stalled most of April due to weather and breakdowns.
Tuesday morning, news of the cutback was discussed
in a meeting between officials with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, the project contractor and a representative
of Manatee County.
Information on the reduction was contained within
the permit extension issued by the Florida Department
of Environment Protection.
The original permit had called for the beaches to
be renourished all the way down to 12th Street South.
But repeated delays due to weather and equipment breakdowns
forced project officials to reassess what they could
hope to get done.
Since April 1, when Goodloe Marine Inc. was supposed
to resume pumping sand, high wind and waves delayed
the startup for more than a week. When work did resume,
the contractor was forced to quit early in the day.
After just four days of pumping, a gasket in the underwater
pipeline blew out last week and the operation was
halted over the weekend. Project manager Ben Goodloe
told Corps officials Tuesday that he replaced the
flexible gasket, but had to re-bury about a mile of
of underwater line and hopes to be finished Wednesday
and back in operation Thursday of this week. However,
the weather forecast called for another cold front
to move through the area, which may bring high waves
that would make it impossible for them to work.
Goodloe is under the gun to finish by the June 1 deadline,
which is when the permit extension expires, and with
sea turtle mating season starting in May, it is unlikely
that another extension would be granted.
Goodloe asked Anna Maria Turtle Watch Director Suzi
Fox if they could get a few extra days to remove the
pipeline from the beach, allowing them to finish more
of the project. She said that was possible, but she
could not see allowing more pumping of sand after
The Corps is asking Manatee County if they can use
the north end of the parking lot at Manatee County
Beach as a staging area, much like they did four years
ago, the last time the beach was renourished. If so,
that would allow them to work closer to the June 1
The project began last July, a month later than expected,
and was plagued all summer by hurricanes and all winter
by cold fronts. Goodloe shut down the operation in
November, leaving the pipeline on the beach after
the Corps declined to order them to remove it.
nesting season nears
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
Turtle nesting season officially opens on May 1.
That's about the time the threatened and endangered
loggerhead and green sea turtles will come lumbering
ashore during the overnight hours to deposit their
clutches of eggs on Anna Maria's beaches.
Friends of sea turtles turned out in good numbers
last week to attend the annual volunteer training
put on by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch.
AMITW Chief Suzi Fox put on a power point presentation
at Holmes Beach city hall on April 18 for the volunteers
who will walk the Island beaches at dawn searching
for signs of nesting activity.
"Once you see that the girls has come ashore,
call your coordinator and leave a stake," Fox
told her new and returning volunteers. "The
signs will be clear, you just have to look for them."
Fox said when volunteers walk the beach at first
light; the lighting makes it easier to spot the
signs of nesting.
"And it's before people get on the beach and
walk over the tracks making them hard to spot,"
she said. "We have to be on the beach by first
light and you have to call the coordinator of your
section by no later than 7:30."
Each year, between May and October, sea turtles,
mostly loggerheads on Anna Maria Island, return
to their natal beaches - the beaches where they
were born - and nest. Only the females - or "the
girls" - as turtle people call them - ever
come ashore, and that's to nest. The rest of their
lives, the marine turtles spend at sea, roaming
all over the globe.
Their numbers are dwindling, and state and federal
programs like our local AMI Turtle Watch are considered
to be vital for their survival.
Fox is permitted by the state of Florida to monitor
the Island's beaches with the help of her volunteers.
The group keeps detailed records of the nesting
activity and forwards it to the Florida Wildlife
Commission where it is put with data from the rest
of the state so that a picture of the health and
numbers of the sea turtle population can be compiled.
The volunteer group also marks off the nests so
that they don't get accidentally trampled or destroyed
by human activity on the beach. Where necessary,
the nests are relocated.
This year, for the second season in a row, there
is renourishment activity on our beaches, so many
nests in the project area will have to be moved.
"That's not a good thing," Fox told her
volunteers. "Last year, we lost almost every
nest we relocated, because raccoons got into them."
On other parts of the beach, the nests are left
in place, unless they are so close to the water
line that they will become imperiled by high tide.
"You really matter to the continued existence
in our world of these turtles," Fox told her
volunteers. "We have one of the best programs
in the state, and we are really making a difference."
Island residents and visitors will see the volunteers
on the beaches each morning at dawn. They wear their
distinctive white shirts with a turtle logo and
the words "Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch."
There are still some openings for walkers. The beach
has been divided into sections of about a half-mile.
Volunteers walk an assigned section one or more
mornings a week.
Anyone interested in volunteering or in finding
out more about sea turtles can call the AMITW phone
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA - Just when it appeared that the divisive
debate on who should park where was laid to rest
with a workable compromise in force, city commissioners
are making changes to their plan.
Plan C (for compromise) was first proposed by Commissioner
Duke Miller, who has long been a proponent of resident-only
parking. Commissioner Dale Woodland, a champion
of open parking, quickly signed on to the compromise
plan, and it was signed into law in September of
last year. Commissioner Linda Cramer remained opposed
to the compromise. She said she will support nothing
but resident-only parking.
On December 1, Plan C went into effect. It's basically
an alternate side of the street parking plan. One
year, there is parking for resident and visitor
alike on one side of the street. The following year,
the other side of the street is to be the parking
Now, five months into the plan, commissioners are
making some changes.
"These are just adjustments," said Commission
Chair John Quam. "These are minor changes for
safety and because one street wanted open parking.
We've always allowed open parking on a street when
100 percent of the residents sign on."
The commission agreed by consensus at their April
13 work session to change Cedar Avenue to open parking
and to close Tuna, Cypress and Spruce to all parking
for safety reasons.
"That area up there (Tuna Cypress and Spruce)
is so narrow, it looks like someone just dug it
out with a shovel and then threw some asphalt on
it," Miller said. "There really isn't
anywhere to park and still allow room for even a
pedestrian to walk there."
Tuna, Cypress and Spruce form a horseshoe off North
Shore Drive several blocks north of Pine Avenue.
During the latest chapter in the 30-year parking
debate - the chapter that ended with Plan C - residents
there first asked the city to make their streets
one-way headed north. The city did that. The residents
decided that didn't work, so they asked the city
to make their streets one-way headed south. They
thought that didn't work either, so they asked commissioners
to close their streets to all parking.
"It's really narrow up there," said Tuna
resident Jennifer Cascardo. "Someone's going
to get hurt. The children up there play in the street.
It isn't safe."
Commissioners agreed by consensus to go along with
that request for safety reasons.
Some residents of other streets that are narrow
are now asking commissioners to close their streets
"I have heard from some constituents,"
Quam said. "I told them it was just a minor
adjustment. We always said we'd adjust the plan
from time to time and especially for safety reasons.
If we get other requests, we'll just have to consider
them. Each situation's different."
Miller said he's also heard a thing or two.
"I guess we'll have to see," he said.
"I've always said we have a double standard
here. When I proposed the plan, it was alternate
side of the street parking throughout the city.
Then we allowed streets to opt out of the plan if
they wanted open parking and 100 percent of the
residents on that street agreed. That's a double
standard. Why can't all the residents of all the
streets get what they want? Closed or open?"
But Miller said that the commission had passed the
plan and he was willing to live with it and try
it even with what he perceives to be a double standard.
Commissioner Dale Woodland doesn't think the Tuna,
Spruce, Cypress closure to parking is going to open
the door to another round of endless parking debate.
"My gut tells me no. I think it's just these
streets," he said. "But I can tell you
this: If the whole can of worms gets re-opened,
and we have to go through the whole process again,
I'm ready to go through the whole process again."
All three commissioners pointed out that the plan
seems to be working. They noted that law enforcement
officers have said illegal parking is down, residents
are complaining less and everyone seems to be willing
to give Plan C a year's trial.
The commission will not be re-visiting the parking
discussion until its May 25 regular city commission
meeting, when the changes will be part of the second
reading of the changes to the traffic ordinance.
The second reading of an ordinance is the final
step before the ordinance becomes law.
The commission will discuss installing some crosswalks
and stop signs at their May 11 work session, according
to Quam, but they won't discuss parking - or no
parking - or resident-only parking.
RV park to become multi-family residences
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA - Stanley Riggs, owner of Holiday Cove
RV Park, told officials at the Coalition of Barrier
Island Elected Officials of his plans to redevelop
the park into 78 multi-family units.
"I wanted you to get the information before
you read about it in the newspaper," he said.
"The development is going on a major evacuation
route for the Island."
He said the park, which currently has 112 RV sites
and 22 boat docks, is approximately nine acres and
is zoned commercial. It is 1/4 mile east of the
"It's not a trailer park or a mobile home park.
It's a vacation place; nobody lives there,"
he pointed out. "The park is faced with the
same challenges as other businesses on the barrier
islands - increased property taxes and difficulty
obtaining insurance. We're faced with the need to
find a different use for it."
Kevin Button, Holiday Cove operations manager, said
the redevelopment would reduce density and traffic,
and units would be built to hurricane standards.
He said people needing shelter in a hurricane would
be reduced by 30 percent.
Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked
what is the occupancy rate of the park during hurricane
Riggs said the park is 40 to 50 percent occupied
in the summer and fall, but on holiday weekends
it jumps to 100 percent.
Citing the Arvida/Perico issue, Holmes Beach Mayor
Carol Whitmore asked Riggs to keep the units as
low as possible.
"We're still working on that," Riggs replied.
"We'll be having a meeting with people in the
neighborhood in a couple of weeks and we're looking
for community input. Our goal is to come up with
a project that everybody can look at and say, 'That
turned out really nice.'"
Holmes Beach Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens asked
if he would be selling to investors.
"We're interested in selling to people who
want a primary or secondary residence," Riggs
replied. "We envision having a two-year lockout
for sales to avoid people flipping properties."
tourism occupancy rates down, room rates up
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
Anna Maria Island
accommodations occupancy in January, February and
March has hit a four-year low, while room rates
have hit a four-year high, according to statistics
just released by the Bradenton Area Convention and
January occupancy on the Island was 29.3 percent,
down from 37.5 percent last year, 46.8 percent in
2004 and 37.1 percent in 2003. February occupancy
was 59.6 percent, down from 77.9 percent last year,
82.1 percent in 2004 and 76.6 percent in 2003. March
occupancy was 77.3 percent, down from 94.3 percent
last year, 92.1 percent in 2004 and 89 percent in
The story in the Manatee County portion of Longboat
Key is similar, with an exception in January.
January occupancy was 56.2 percent, down from 58.4
percent last year, but up from 52.8 percent in 2004
and 51.9 percent in 2003. February occupancy was
71.5 percent, down from 78.7 percent last year,
82 percent in 2004 and 72.3 percent in 2003. March
occupancy was 80.2 percent, down from 87.4 percent
last year, 97.7 percent in 2004 and 87.3 percent
Average daily room rates on Anna Maria Island were
consistently up in all three months from the previous
January rates were $163.42, up from $153.13 last
year, $155.40 in 2004 and $149.47 in 2003. February
rates were $176.63, up from $171.39 last year, $159.59
in 2004 and $162.92 in 2003. March rates were $186.21,
up from $172.28 last year, $173.91 in 2004 and $173.57
On Longboat Key, average daily room rates also were
consistently higher with one exception. January's
$151.95 was up from $151.61 last year, $129.14 in
2004 and $133.02 in 2003. February's $187.48 was
up from last year's $184.41, $172.53 in 2004 and
$170.03 in 2003. March's $205.40 was down from $216.98
last year, but up from $182.79 in 2004 and $178.58
dedication scheduled Monday
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH - It's
been more than three years in the planning and it's
time to celebrate the results.
Anna Maria Elementary School opens its doors Monday,
May 1, at 5:30 p.m. to dignitaries, educators and
Island residents for the official dedication of
the new school.
The event begins with a short program inside the
refurbished auditorium followed by a raising of
the colors at their new location. Manatee County
School Superintendent Dr. Roger Dearing and school
board members Harry Kinnan and Frank Brunner will
speak and some students will make a musical presentation.
Also on hand will be principal Kathy Hayes and representatives
from the contractor, W. G. Mills.
Fifth-graders will take audience member for tours
of the new classroom building after the ceremony,
and they will congregate at the shaded area under
the old oak trees after that.
The $8.6 million project replaced the 55-year-old
courtyard classrooms with a new two-story building
that puts the first three grades on the ground floor
and the older student classrooms on the upper floor.
The auditorium and the art and music building, located
on the northern section of the site, were refurbished.
The project increases the school's size by 42,000
square feet and puts all the classrooms together
under one roof, as opposed to the old design in
which each classroom opened to the outdoors.
Landscaping changes were massive. The elevation
of the ground was raised and water retention areas
were designed to make sure storm water did not affect
The project had its ups and downs. When parents
found out that a stand of oak trees had been cut
down over a weekend with little or no warning being
given, they angrily protested the move.
The outcry then prompted the school construction
team to hold a series of informational sessions
for the public. After receiving input for several
months, the team was told its changes in the plans
would push the project over budget and it was pared
The auditorium and the art and music room were to
be replaced initially, but were refurbished to help
bring the project under budget.
The school board allowed for Island architectural
touches such as a metal-look roof and shuttered
windows and the new landscape includes nearly 100
For information about the dedication, call the school
recommendations revised ...
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH - True
to their word, planning commissioners discussed
changes to their proposed sign ordinance that were
suggested by real estate agents and business owners
Although they did not agree with any of the suggestions,
they did make some changes to their original recommendations.
Planners said they would send a revised version
to city commissioners.
Regarding a suggestion to allow ground signs of
up to four square feet with two pendants and a tube,
planners said that would make signs too large.
"I believe that the pendants should be a part
of the overall size of the sign," planner John
Monetti said. "Pendants are just a way of making
the sign bigger."
Chairman Sue Normand suggested a choice of a 2 1/2-square-foot
sign with two pendants or a 4-square-foot sign with
"The issue is how much total stuff they're
going to put out there," planner Mike McCaleb
said. "The pendants serve a purpose. I think
they're OK, but don't exceed 4 square feet."
They agreed on signs of 4 square feet including
any pendants and/or tubes.
Regarding for sale signs on waterfront property,
planners had recommended one, but realtors had asked
for two, so they could put one on the waterfront
"It's probably not so bad because you don't
see both of them at once." Brisson pointed
out, and the others agreed.
"What about for sale signs on beachfront property?"
City Commissioner Pat Morton, the board's liaison,
asked. "People are putting them on the beach."
Planners then agreed to stick to their original
recommendation in order to avoid a problem with
beachfront versus canal front.
Another area of discussion was about removing rental
signs once a property in rented, which is in the
current code. Realtors had asked that they only
require removal when the property is rented annually.
Brisson said he understood the problem of removing
a sign each time a property is rented, but the other
alternative is to have a large sign in the yard
at all times. He said he had observed one real estate
agent's rental signs affixed to the house, making
them less obtrusive.
"My thought was to allow one vacation rental
sign on a house that can remain there, but if it's
a ground sign, it must be taken down," Brisson
The others agreed and established the size of the
house sign at 18 by 18 inches.
Their recommendation on ground signs in the vision
triangle remained the same as before, as did the
height of signs at 4 feet, the number of open house
signs at two and length of time to display an open
house sign at one hour before and one hour after.
They agreed that signs must be 10 feet back from
the street pavement.
while contractors air concerns
By Pat Copeland
HOLMES BEACH - In
the on-going debate over sign regulations, contractor
Hugh Holmes, Jr. has brought up concerns expressed
by those in the construction industry.
"During construction projects, we typically
install a sign with our name, phone number and,
per DPR (Department of Professional Regulation)
regulations, our contractor's license number,"
he explained in a letter to the mayor and commission.
"We also, at times, feel the need to display
a warning no trespassing sign to keep people away
from the dangers commonly found on construction
In addition, there would be a building permit sign
and possibly an architect's identification sign.
On a waterfront lot, he said signs are displayed
on both street and waterfront sides. He said he
is not opposed to smaller signs on residential projects,
but he feels that larger signs should be permitted
on larger commercial projects.
"I feel charging a fee for each temporary construction
sign is absurd," he continued. "The price
of building permits are going up and up. By paying
this fee, I feel we should be able to have the identification
signs outlined above and especially the warning
sign included in the permit charge."
He also said he is not in favor of a two-color limit
on signs, as imposed by the town of Longboat Key
because it makes signs look washed out.
"One area of signs I see which seems to be
growing out of control are the street signs,"
he noted. "These may be requirements of different
levels of government, but there are street, caution,
information, walkways warnings, walkway fine signs,
no littering, no parking signs and on and on through
He suggested that the city do something to reduce
those types of signs.