Beach chairs, tents and umbrells
left overnight on the sand are posing a real
threat to endangered nesting sea turtles on
the Island, according to city code enforcement
An unusually high number of the items have been
found recently on beaches in all three cities,
but were especially abundant on a stretch in
"It was pretty bad," said Holmes Beach
Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall. "I
checked the area from 64th Street to 74th Street.
There were over 105 items left out on the beach
overnight that shouldnt have been there."
Hall said that included tents, chairs, umbrellas,
portable swimming pools and toys.
Most of the items are left by renters or other
visitors who are unaware they pose a hazard
to nesting turtles, Hall said.
All three Island cities have regulations prohibiting
leaving such items on the beach overnight during
In one instance, Hall said she found the renters
who had left their tent, umbrella, toys and
a swimming pool out overnight. They said their
rental company had not informed them about the
fact that all the Islands beach area is
nesting habitat and that beach chairs and such
must be taken in after sunset.
"Ill notify the rental company,"
she said. "Theyre supposed to include
information about sea turtles in their rental
Hall said she prefers to work with people rather
than citing them. She said she thinks most people
will cooperate and do what they can to protect
"But if I have to, I wont hesitate
to cite them," she said.
Hall tagged the items that were left on the
beach overnight, she said. She planned to check
back in a couple of days. Anything still out
there was to be taken to the public works area
on the city hall campus where it can be picked
up any day between 3 and 5 p.m.
Bradenton Beachs Code Enforcement Officer
Gerry Rathvon checked the beach in her city
last week as well.
"The lights werent too bad, but there
was a lot of stuff out there on the beach overnight
that should have been brought in," she
Items left on the beach in that city were tagged
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watchs Director
Suzi Fox explained why it is so important to
clear the beach of all obstructions.
"It might not seem like much," she
said. "One of those aluminum beach chairs
is very light weight, and people wonder how
that could hurt a great big 300 pound mother
turtle. Well, Ive seen photos of mother
turtles trapped in those chairs. One died on
the east coast a couple of years ago, because
she couldnt get out of it and she dehydrated."
The threatened and endangered sea turtles that
nest on the worlds beaches are most at
home in the water. They are on land only twice
in their lives when they hatch, and for
the females, when they lay their eggs.
It can take 45 minutes for a mother turtle to
haul herself from the water, pull herself across
the sand and get up to where she senses her
eggs will be safe from overwash in storms or
Then it takes another 45 minutes or so for her
to dig her nest and deposit her eggs. Then she
has to haul her heavy carapace back into the
sea, which takes another 45 minutes.
During that time, the turtle is out of her element.
Everything is very difficult and exhausting
for her. Any impediments can cause her to spend
additional energy. She can also become trapped.
Sometimes a nesting turtle will become so exhausted
by the effort that shell return to the
sea and just abort her eggs.
In a species that is millions of years old that
now faces extinction because of the pressures
of civilization, the loss of each egg, each
potential hatchling, is grave.
Even if the eggs hatch, the babies face the
same problems trying to reach the relative safety
of the water. And if they make it to the Gulf,
only about one in a thousand will survive to
"Its relatively easy to fix your
lights and to take your things off the beach,"
Rathvon said. "Thats why we have
Hall said she thinks that people really want
to help, but they either dont know the
regulations or they arent aware of how
important those rules are.
"I plan to be making regular checks of
the beaches in my city," she said. "I
hope things will improve."
Rathvon, who also serves as the code enforcement
officer in Anna Maria, said shed be doing
the same thing in her two cities.
"Hopefully, we can get everyone into compliance
and then the it will be much easier for the
turtles," she said.
found floating by city pier
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
ANN MARIA Manatee County Sheriffs
deputies are trying to determine how an Anna
Maria man died after he was found last Friday
around 1:30 p.m. floating in the bay near
the Anna Maria City Pier.
Donato Antonio Natale, 83, who lived on Oak
Avenue, was identified Monday, according to
Manatee County Sheriffs Office spokesman
Deputies apparently found some personal effects
on the beach near where Natale was found and
made a tentative identification through a
key to a post office box in Anna Maria. Bristow
said the final piece of the puzzle was the
serial number on the pacemaker on the body.
He said an autopsy has been performed and
they are waiting for the results.
According to neighbors, he lived alone. One
neighbor said he enjoyed his garden and had
made pottery for some of the plants in it.
She also said he enjoyed cooking Italian food.
People on the pier first spotted the mans
"We were watching a dolphin when somebody
said there was a body in the water floating
face down," said Lynn Modisett. "Somebody
jumped in and got him out."
Joe Pecorino, a past resident of the Island
who now lives in Tennessee, was the one who
"He was within 50 yards of the shore
and it appeared he was snorkeling," Pecorino
said. "I jumped in and pulled him out.
He was pretty stiff."
Anna Maria resident Karen DiCostanzo came
over from Mama Los and gave mouth to
mouth resuscitation and Don Monteferrante
tried chest compression until an EMS unit
DiCostanzo said his body was so stiff that
when she tried to tilt his head back for the
mouth to mouth resuscitation, it would not
The man was apparently wearing a pacemaker
and might have been dead as long as an hour
before he was found, according to the sheriffs
He was taken to Blake Medical Center where
he was pronounced dead.
cool to request for info
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH City commissioners
were reluctant to reply to a request for information
from Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore regarding
Whitmore made the extensive request in a letter
dated May 29 so that her staff could put together
a cost versus benefits study of a consolidation
of the three Island cities.
"This is quite a list here," Mayor
John Chappie said. "Then you read in
the paper that they dont want to do
anything without Anna Maria."
Chappie was referring to the fact that Anna
Maria commissioners voted not to put the consolidation
study referendum on the ballot, leaving only
Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach to study
it. Voters in both those cities agreed to
proceed with the study, but the Bradenton
Beach Commission recently decided to drop
the study because of the lack of input from
However, Anna Maria commissioners recently
discussed the possibility of consolidating
the services in all three cities (Island Sun,
"Were short on staff," Chappie
said last Thursday night. "Do we charge
them for compiling this information? I could
go to Holmes Beach and tell them Im
getting mixed messages here and I wouldnt
mind doing that."
Holmes Beach commissioners recently chided
their Bradenton Beach counterparts for not
helping to pay for a professional to study
consolidation because Anna Maria would not
"I went back and looked at their resolution,"
said Commissioner John Shaughnessy. "It
talks about consolidating into a single city.
The vote was not to be binding on the commission.
It also talks about Holmes Beach studying
consolidation in conjunction with Bradenton
Beach and Anna Maria. It says here it has
got to be all three cities."
"I personally think it is unfair for
our taxpayers to pay for all this information
that will be used by only one city,"
Commissioner Bill Shearon said. "It should
be compiled by all three cities and then done
by an impartial organization."
The commission voted to have Chappie talk
with Whitmore and if Holmes Beach really wants
this information, he will work up a cost estimate.
The request asked for a list of city assets,
a copy of its budget, financial statements,
its health insurance plans and costs, retirement
plans information and costs, pay plans, including
number of employees, staffing levels, job
descriptions and employee longevity. Holmes
Beach officials also want a list of liabilities,
lawsuits against the city, the number of building
permits and inspections conducted in the past
year, the number of special exemptions applied
for and granted in the last year and the number
of rezones applied for and granted. The police
department rank structure, inventory and other
information were also requested.
patrol beefed up
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH When the sun goes down,
this resort city takes on a new life. Vacationers
enjoy a late supper on the beach or bay, the
bars fill up with revelers and some local
anglers do what they have been doing for nearly
50 years trying their luck in the waters
off the Bridge Street Pier.
The pier, the remnant of the first bridge
to the Island, has been open all night since
the city took over the operation of the facility.
Last week, those anglers almost lost their
privilege to fish by the moonlight when the
city commission considered closing it at midnight
to stem a rash of vandalism there.
Instead, they decided to beef up patrols by
paying an extra officer to be there all night.
The issue came to light two weeks earlier
when Police Chief Sam Speciale complained
about vandalism on the pier and in its restrooms.
Some of the damage was coming from occupants
of boats moored in the bay south of the pier,
Speciale said, and as soon as Florida Governor
Jeb Bush signed a bill allowing Bradenton
Beach to patrol the waters there, he said
his men would board those boats. Speciale
said some of the damage in the restrooms came
from somebody emptying a portable septic device
like those used aboard small boats, and he
wanted to inspect those boats to see if they
had required septic systems.
At that time, Mayor John Chappie talked about
closing the pier overnight, but the commission
decided to wait until last Thursdays
meeting to make a decision. At the meeting,
public works director Tom Woodard gave an
"There have been lots of dead fish left
on the pier deck from cast netters, but nothing
illegal," he said, "Tuesday morning,
(public works employee) Wes Stump reported
feces smeared all over the floor and walls
of both bathrooms."
Woodard said police were investigating a report
from a Circle K store that somebody bragged
about doing the vandalism at the pier.
"As disgusting as it sounds, those are
not criminal acts because there is no damage,"
Speciale told the commissioners. "My
guys are patrolling there every two hours
and documenting it but the problem I have
is it takes them off their regular patrols
after midnight when theres only one
officer on duty."
Speciale said since the city would be closing
the pier soon to rebuild it, he would recommend
locking the doors to the restrooms, but it
may not do much good.
"If someone has a vendetta against the
city, they will break the doors," he
Commissioner Bill Shearon asked Speciale how
many anglers his men see on the pier after
midnight and he said not many.
"My problem is, if we close it, it tends
to get people upset and vandals could still
get on the pier from the water," Speciale
said. "If we shutdown the restrooms,
where are people going to relieve themselves?"
Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips suggested
hiring a private security guard to patrol
the pier. She said the money saved from the
reduction in vandalism could pay for the private
Commissioner John Shaughnessy said it would
cost the city one way or another.
"I really feel we have to do something,"
Chappie said. "When they start construction
out there, people will start walking off (with
tools and materials).
"I want everyone to know, I hate having
to spend money because some scumbag who has
no decency is doing this," Chappie added.
"I would like the chief to run some prices
on a private guard.
Shaughnessy suggested Speciale see if he could
come up with money from his budget to pay
police officers to patrol the pier and Chappie
For now, the pier remains open all night.
accepts pier piling bid
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Commissioners voted to accept the only
bid received to restore the pilings beneath
the Bridge Street Pier, despite the fact it
was nearly twice as high as what was budgeted.
The commissioners agreed to spend up to the
$124,372 bid from Stemic Enterprises, Inc.,
even though $70,000 was budgeted, after receiving
assurances from building official Ed McAdam
and police chief Sam Speciale that the bid
was based on a "worst case" scenario.
"We inspected the pilings with our engineer
and its not as bad as we thought,"
"It bothers me some that the same engineer
that worked up the bid inspected it later
and said its not that bad," said
Vice Mayor Lisa Marie Phillips.
"When Mr. (Charles) Sego (the engineer)
and I first went out to the pier, he was way
conservative," said Speciale, who is
a member of the citys pier construction
team. "This last time he said it needed
less work than what he put in the bid specifications.
He said he made the specifications for a worst
McAdam said the bid called for a unit price
"There is a certain price for each pile
they have to fix," said McAdam. "When
they scrape the barnacles off the piles, they
might find that they are in better shape than
The commission also a proposal to hire Sego
and Sego as project engineers to monitor the
progress of the work.
Then, Mayor John Chappie talked about getting
a line of credit to finish the pier in one
"We really havent made a decision,"
Chappie said. "We talked about phasing
the project, but lately, we seem to be leaning
toward getting it done all at once."
Chappie said the city auditor told him they
could use revenues from the Community Redevelopment
Agency graduated tax base to pay for the pier
and that they could pay back the line of credit
in due time.
The commissioners agreed to have city clerk
Nora Idso check out acquiring the line of
need a hurricane plan
sun staff writer
Hurricane veterans passed on lessons
they learned to Longboat Key business owners
last week at the Longboat Key-Lido Key-St
Armands Key Chamber of Commerce "Hurricane
Lessons one, two and three: Have a plan.
Not only should business owners have a disaster
plan, they should have two backup plans, said
Charlie Brown, CEO of Insignia Bank in Sarasota,
who was CEO of Charlotte State Banks
five branches during Hurricane Charley in
Have three electricians lined up., three sets
of keys with three different employees and
three fuel vendors for your generator, which
is a must-have, he said.
Power, not cash, is king after a hurricane,
Brown said. A generator encourages employees
to come to work just to get away from the
heat at home. So does providing food.
Taking care of your staff is the first order
of business, he said, suggesting opening a
free general store in your temporary location
for necessities. Assign a worker to drive
to the nearest unaffected city to stock it.
"The people who didnt have a plan
didnt come back from Charley,"
said Lou Ambler of DeSoto Insurance in Arcadia,
which was unexpectedly hit by Hurricane Charley.
With only four hours to prepare, he managed
to open his business the day after the storm,
but many others did not.
Lesson four: Dont think you dont
need a plan.
"You always have that idea that its
not going to happen to me," said Bill
Wishard, who runs the Gateway Group, a property
management company in Charlotte County, which
was devastated by Charley.
Wishard also kept his business running after
Charley hit. He suggests a business disaster
plan that includes an evacuation location
close to a hospital or government building,
which is more likely to get electricity restored
sooner. It should also be inland and at a
high elevation, he added.
Develop relationships with contractors in
advance, including at least one out of state,
he suggests. Make plans that you will try
to meet at a certain place and time the day
after a storm hits your city, because phones
will likely be out of order.
In case phones still work, its helpful
to have an employee phone tree set up for
use when the office is uninhabitable. Workers
call each other with instructions on where
and when to meet after the storm.
Set up a contract with a temporary agency
to supply workers after the storm. Many regular
employees will be unavailable depending on
their circumstances, he said.
Back up your computer data and take it with
you when you evacuate, he said, and print
out a customer contact list in case electricity
isnt restored immediately.
Consider adding business protection insurance
for loss of business, loss of income and additional
expense due to disaster, said Wishard, adding
that temporary office space rent skyrockets
after a storm.
Last lesson: If you dont have a plan,
make one now.
For sample business disaster plans, visit
declares war on plastic bags
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Plastic bags flying loose at the beach
are a nuisance that threaten seagrass beds
and animals that ingest them. One city commissioner
raised a question about it on Tuesday and
another talked about a solution on Wednesday.
It all began when City Commissioner Janie
Robertson spoke at the Tuesday afternoon Scenic
Highway Committee meeting.
"I walk the beach every morning and clean
up the trash," she said. "The only
thing more prevalent that beer cans is cigarette
butts and plastic bags."
Robertson said she would like to see the city
try to bag plastic bags on the beach, and
she thought the Scenic Highway committee should
take the lead.
The next day, at the WAVES committee meeting,
Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips talked about
a $3,000 grant that the Sarasota Bay Estuary
Program awarded the city for a program called
"The Canvas Bag Program Eliminating
Plastic Bags from our Waterways.
Phillips said the bags "strangle our
seagrass beds and turtles think they are jellyfish."
She said she thinks there is a solution.
"We can effect a culture change; offer
alternatives," she said. "We could
get teams of volunteers from high schools
to hit Coquina Beach four weekends in a row
and offer canvas bags or other alternatives
to take to the beach."
Phillips said a portion of fulfilling the
terms of the grant the city won was to make
an effort to get the city commission to ban
plastic bags on the beach.
"When the pier gets up and running again,"
she said, "we could offer to waive the
$1 fishing fee if they use anything but plastic
Phillips said the committee could explore
other alternatives to plastic bags and hold
a contest for elementary school students next
fall to design a logo for the canvas bags
the city might purchase with the grant money.
She said she asked for booth space at the
Florida Gulf Coast Outdoor Festival to be
held June 24 at Coquina Park Beach and Bayside.
Bob Herrington, public transportation planner
for the Sarasota/Bradenton Metropolitan Planning
Organization, is a liaison member of both
committees, and he suggested Phillips bring
her ideas to the next Scenic Highway meeting
on Tuesday, June 13, at 1 p.m.
hopes code changes will help resolve lawsuit
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Commissioners said they
could proceed with code changes if two parties
in a lawsuit agree with their planning consultants
recommendations to resolve the suit.
"We want to try and resolve this with
a legislative fix. If we change the code,
the likelihood of a successful challenge judicially
is pretty low," City Attorney Jim Dye,
who is representing the city in the lawsuit,
said. "There are other places in the
city that this is going on. The legislative
fix is the most expeditious way to fix it.
The lawsuit involves the right to dock in
the canal between 71st and 72nd streets. Steve
and Sandy Lindhal, of 503 72nd St., filed
the lawsuit in October 2003 against Mike and
Melanie McCaleb, of 507 72nd Street, and the
city. The city is involved because of a code
enforcement decision involving setbacks in
Since the 1960s, three boat docks have been
located at the dead end of the canal, planning
consultant Bill Brisson told commissioners.
Five homeowners living on single-family lots
adjacent to a non-buildable flag-shaped lot
claim 1/5 interest in the flag shaped lot
and access rights to the docks.
"The docks are not in conformance with
the land development code," he said.
"Docks are an accessory use and to have
an accessory use, you have to have a principal
use. Theres no principal use on the
"The property owners on either side of
the canal have certain rights. Theyre
allowed to extend out 20 feet into the canal
from either side and then there is this joint
use area and no one can use the corner setback
He said the lawsuit was triggered when McCaleb
applied for a permit for a dock that would
have extended into the canal and blocked at
least a portion of one of the other docks.
He said the other docks in the canal were
built without permits.
There are similar situations in other areas
of the city, and the code does not address
docks that are not a principal use, Brisson
said. He said commissioners must decide whether
to grandfather existing docks on non-buildable
lots, whether to allow multiple docks on non-buildable
lots, how to address docks built without permits
and what to do about owners of non-buildable
lots that havent built docks yet.
He recommended that owners adjacent or across
the street from unbuildable lots should be
allowed to have docks there, and if there
is multiple ownership of a parcel, docks should
be limited to one per person.
Dye said one of the problems in the Lindhal/McCaleb
issue is that Lindhal has two docks.
"We suggest that if you allow the continued
existence or restructure any existing, non-conforming
docks, that they should have a period in which
the owners can register," Brisson advised.
He also recommended that the setback areas
remain the same. He said where there is an
overlap of mooring rights, the property owners
could split the overlap area and draw up a
legally binding agreement, or the city could
allow five feet of the square to go to the
owner on each side.
"It seems so obvious that we need to
do something about these situations that you
describe, but maybe theres something
were not seeing," Chairman Rich
Bohnenberger said. Im not in favor
of creating a hardship on anybody."
Brisson said he had crafted a possible solution
to the Lindhal/McCaleb situation, but prior
to the meeting he realized that McCalebs
mooring area extends further into the canal
than his drawing indicates.
"It could work if they agree to it, but
it wont work on its own," Brisson
Dye suggested that the two parties in the
lawsuit and the city commission hold a shade
meeting to work out a solution. Shade meeting
is allowed in order to negotiate a lawsuit.
The shade meeting was set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday,