County to price pier, groin fixes
Embattled GSR requests extension
New officers for Community Center Board
2006: Record year for manatee deaths
to get tough on pier maintenance
approves Island renourishment project
Group gets landscape project update
to set 30-day stay in R-1 district
County to price
pier, groin fixes
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH Manatee County Commissioners
have voted to investigate fixing an ailing pier and
at least one of three groins that are in disrepair
along the Gulf coast of the Island.
Commissioners directed Conservation Lands Management
Director Charlie Hunsicker to look into the matter.
Hunsicker appeared before the commission last week
after corroded reinforcement bar forced the closure
of the Manatee County Beach pier in Holmes Beach.
A recent engineers inspection report said that
the structure poses a hazard to people walking on
top of it and those walking under it along the shore.
When County Commissioners Jane von Hahmann and Carol
Whitmore found out about the need to repair the pier,
von Hahmann asked if the county could also fix the
three groins at Coquina Beach. Thats when Hunsicker
scheduled it as an agenda item before the commission
meeting last week.
Hunsicker said the groins were last repaired in the
early 1980s at the countys request, even though
the state was not too sure they were necessary.
"The Department of Environmental Protection asked
at one time that they be removed, but the county convinced
the state that their functionality had to be preserved,"
Hunsicker said. "We tried to make one of them
into a recreational facility, but now one of them
has completely failed. Now we need to fix it, knowing
that the other two could go out at any time."
Hunsicker said he would prefer that the county preserve
at least the northernmost groin by placing a new deck
over it, making it safe to walk on.
"Im excited, because this needs to be done,"
von Hahmann said. "The Manatee County Beach Pier
needs to be done and at least one of the groins needs
to be done."
Von Hahmann said she and her husband questioned the
countys refurbishment of the groins back in
the 1980s, saying it would not last.
Whitmore asked Hunsicker if the county would take
the concrete tops off the other two groins, leaving
the pilings and debris to act as erosion arresting
structures, and he said yes. Whitmore said she would
The commission voted unanimously to have Hunsicker
get prices on fixing the pier in Holmes Beach and
at least the northernmost groin in Bradenton Beach.
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
GSR Development has requested a second extension
of time to file its reorganization plan under Chapter
11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code, one day before
the reorganization plan was due.
The Bradenton-based land development company, which
failed to complete the Villa Rosa project in Anna
Maria and the Rosa del Mar project in Bradenton Beach,
filed bankruptcy last year.
Calling GSR "one of the largest landowners on
the Island," the companys Tampa attorney,
Richard Prosser, requested another six weeks to allow
the debtors restructuring manager, William Maloney,
to complete a marketing plan to sell the property
and pay off creditors.
The motion, filed Jan. 8, also requests more time
to allow unsecured creditors an opportunity to review
the marketing plan before it is filed with the court.
U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge K. Rodney May
previously granted GSR an extension of time in December.
Meanwhile, lawsuits against GSRs principals,
Robert Byrne and Steve Noriega, continue to mount.
Last month, they were named among four defendants
sued by First Victoria National Bank for $456,577
in indebtedness on a private airplane. The other defendants
are Edward Furfey and Esrair LLC.
Robert Bryne also was sued individually last month
by Bayfront Holdings II LLC for approximately $1.5
million in loans secured by two properties in Bradenton
Beach and Holmes Beach.
Byrne owned the properties, but GSR Development claimed
that corporate funds were used to develop them, which
subjected them to the bankruptcy court proceeding
and necessitated suing Byrne individually to protect
Bayfronts interests, according to Tampa attorney
The sale of the property may not cover the loans,
"At the time the loans were made, the real estate
market was a lot hotter than it is now," he said.
for Community Center Board
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
For the first time in 14 years, the Community Center
Board of Directors has a new chairman.
Tom Breiter took over as chairman last week and one
of his first official acts of business was to thank
outgoing Chairman Andy Price for his 14 years of service.
Center officials also presented Price with gifts.
Other new officers include Vice Chairman Scott Rudacille
and Treasurer Bill Ford. Secretary John Horne continues
in his position, as does Stewart Moon, chairman of
the capital campaign.
The board also welcomed new members Carol Carter and
Derek Pettigrew. Pettigrew is a fifth generation Manatee
County resident and grew up on the Island. He graduated
from University of Florida and is a sales associate
with Duncan Real Estate. Carol Carter is sharing the
board seat with her husband, Bob, and has a background
in charitable gift fund raising.
Executive Director Pierrette Kelly reported that the
Center has raised $1.3 million to meet the terms of
the loan from Northern Trust. The grand total raised
to date is $3,787,564, and the remainder of the $4.8
million needed for the new building is $1,037,436.
"I would not have committed to do this building
without knowing that well have revenue-generating
centers in the new facility," Kelly said.
She said the culinary arts center will host local
chefs presenting food programs and Meals on Wheels
clients will be transported to the Center once or
twice a week for meals. Other areas will be the gift
shop and café.
Members voted to co-mingle the endowment trust fund
with those of the Manatee and the Sarasota community
foundations. Benefits include professional money management
of the funds and a higher return on investments.
The members of the Centers auditing firm, Kerking
Barberio, reported to the board that 85 cents of every
dollar raised by the Center goes back into the community.
Trudy Moon, chairman of the Affaire to Remember, gave
board members their auction packets and said the event
is set for Saturday, April 21, at St. Bernard Catholic
Church activity center. Tickets are $150 per person
and reservations are being taken at the Community
Center office by calling 778-1908.
year for manatee deaths
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
More manatees died in Florida waters last year than
in any year on record, according to a preliminary
report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
The 416 manatees killed were one more than the worst
previous year a decade ago, the report said.
Records from 1996 show 415 manatee deaths, 151 from
red tide exposure, according to the FWCs Fish
and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg,
which has tracked manatee mortality since 1974.
Preliminary findings suggest red tide may have been
responsible for the deaths of 61 manatees in 2006.
Watercraft claimed 86 manatees, the second highest
number on record, according to the report.
Red tide and watercraft-related mortalities combined
contributed to more than half of the deaths in 2006
in which scientists could determine a cause of death,
up from 40 percent the year before. A cause of death
could not be determined for 37 percent of the manatees.
Ten of the 2006 deaths occurred in Manatee County
and 19 were in Sarasota County.
The record number of deaths could reflect increased
mortality, manatee population growth or better detection
of dead manatees, researchers say, adding that the
population is stable or growing in most of the state,
except in southwest Florida, where more than a third
of Florida manatees are believed to live.
The report prompted FWC law enforcement officials
to assign a special statewide manatee speed zone detail
last weekend. Officers say that law-abiding boaters
who hit manatees will not receive citations if they
report such accidents, which helps establish the location
get tough on pier maintenance
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Saying they dont want to
end up with city pier situation like they have in
Bradenton Beach, commissioners in this city are looking
into ways to ensure their pier is maintained.
"This is a major tourist attraction which creates
revenues for the city and keeps us vital," said
Commissioner Chris Tollette, who has been pushing
to get a better handle on pier maintenance. "Its
a historical attraction much like Belle Haven, which
we have so lovingly taken care of. We do not want
to be in the same position as Bradenton Beach with
a damaged pier, no tenant and no income for well over
Tollette brought up the issue of pier maintenance
at the city commissions Jan.11 work session.
The city owns the pier. Under the terms of the lease
the City Pier Restaurant has with the city, the tenant
is responsible for maintenance. The term maintenance
isnt spelled out in the lease agreement.
"We cant get them to do anything unless
we get right in their face," Public Works Director
George McKay told commissioners. "They dont
always fix things ASAP, but if it has to do with health,
safety and welfare, they take care of it."
Because of the difficulty getting the tenants to maintain
the pier, the city has been performing that work.
"I dont think thats the right way
to do it," Tollette said. "Since the city
owns the pier, we should be responsible for the maintenance
of our property. Landlords are normally responsible
for the upkeep and maintenance of the exterior of
Commissioner Duke Miller said he wouldnt have
too much problem with that.
"I dont mind doing what you suggest, but
we need to up the rent to do it," he said.
"That would require a renegotiation of the lease
if the city would take over (the maintenance,)"
noted City Attorney Jim Dye. "Im not sure
the tenant would be happy to renegotiate the maintenance
agreement. They would dig in their heels."
Miller countered by saying that if the pier isnt
being maintained, then the tenants are in violation
of the terms of the lease.
The mayor said she thinks the city needs to get more
aggressive about requiring adequate maintenance of
"Were not going after them aggressively
and holding their feet to the fire," Mayor Fran
Barford said. "Id like to get together
with Mr. Dye to find out what we can do. We are maintaining
a lot of the pier and the pier is deteriorating."
Commissioner Dale Woodland said he agrees that something
needs to be done, but he said he doubts that the tenant
is going to agree to renegotiation of the lease.
"Its not going to fly," he said. "Id
like to know what teeth we have in the lease. As far
as not doing the maintenance, theyve been doing
as little as possible for as long as I can remember."
Dye said hed review the terms of the lease,
and the commission will discuss the situation at its
February work session.
Island renourishment project
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH The county is taking the first
steps toward renourishing the beaches at Coquina Beach
on the southernmost portion of Anna Maria Island,
a project that might also include Anna Maria beaches.
The Manatee County Commission has approved a Florida
Department of Environmental Protection grant for $2,637,000,
50-percent of the engineering and construction costs
for the renourishment project along Coquina Beach.
The project would start just south of where the first
two renourishments in 1992 and 2002 ended at 13th
Street South and at Longboat Pass. Manatee County
Conservation Lands Management Director Charlie Hunsicker
said the sand would come from a U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers sand dredging project.
"Its tied in with the Corps of Engineers
maintenance dredging project in the Intracoastal Waterway
and in Longboat Pass," he said.
Manatee County has hired Coastal Planning and Engineering
of Boca Raton to do the engineering for the project.
Senior Vice President Rick Spadoni said the county
would also try to get areas of beaches in Anna Maria
nourished for the first time.
"What we need to do is identify how much sand
will be needed in Coquina Beach and how much sand
will be available from the Corps dredging," he
said. "If there is enough, well be in good
shape, but if we need more, we might have to get sand
from the barrow area we used in the last renourishment."
That renourishment was an emergency project paid for
by the Corps. It was designed to build up beaches
that had been previously renourished but had suffered
erosion from the active hurricane season in 2004.
The project was aborted after the contractor had problems
with high waves in the barrow area.
Spadoni said if the county plays its cards right,
it might save as much as $1 million in mobilization
"The Corps will pay to set up the dredge for
the project in the waterway and Longboat Pass, so
well save those expenses," he said. "If
we can use the permit we used in 2005 for renourishing
the beaches already done in Anna Maria, that project
will pay for bringing the dredge into the area and
setting it up."
Spadoni said he expects the projects to be done this
summer, barring any delays. He said the Coquina Beach
project would be under control of the Army Corps of
Engineers, but the county would have control over
the Anna Maria beach project.
Florida DEP Project Administrator Katherine Florco
said there is no problem in qualifying for the grant
for Coquina Beach, since it has an abundance of parking
spaces. Under terms of federally-sponsored renourishment
projects, the newly rebuilt beaches must be accessible
to the public, and parking availability is a big consideration.
Hunsicker said the Coquina Beach renourishment could
start as early as March, but that depends on whether
or not the FDEP allows the placement of sand during
sea turtle nesting season. If not, the project could
begin in November, Hunsicker said.
Group gets landscape
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH The newly hired programs and
projects director is getting a crash course in what
projects are on the agenda.
Former City Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips was in
attendance as Chris Piazza, the engineer contracted
by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
to oversee several beautification and improvement
grants the city received, explained where those projects
Piazza spoke of four projects that are planned this
year along Gulf Drive from Cortez Road north to the
city limit. Two of the projects are for construction
of sidewalks and the other two are for landscape.
Piazza brought plans showing all the improvements
that the citys Scenic Highway group had approved,
sometimes on a piecemeal basis, over the past two
to three years. Also present was Mitch McKnight, an
engineer who is working with the city on improvement
projects south of Cortez Road. He explained the citys
"We want to go as far as we can with the funds
we have, but with a continuous project from one end
of the city to the other on at least one side of Gulf
Drive," McKnight told the group. "The intersections
will meet the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
requirements and have handicapped ramps with some
curbing at the side streets."
Piazza showed the plans for the sidewalk where it
would go east at 22nd Street and then north on Avenue
C and meet up with Gulf Drive again instead of traveling
along the guardrail in the S curve there. The group
asked if there was room for the sidewalk through the
curve and he said it was too narrow and conditions
there too dangerous.
Also present was Susan Kinney, a project manager for
FDOT, who is overseeing a milling and paving project
from the Cortez Bridge west to the intersection with
The city of Bradenton Beach has a knack for working
with other agencies to get things done at little or
no cost to the city. Manatee County Public Utilities
has been installing new underground water pipes in
the southern portion of the city and Bradenton Beach
was able to work with the county to have it repave
streets that it dug up after the city paid a contractor
to take up the old asphalt. It was much less expensive
than paying for the whole project.
In the case of the milling project on Cortez Road,
which also includes installing a new mast arm to support
the stoplight there, the city is trying to push the
envelope to save money on improving the intersection.
Kinney said FDOT would mill and resurface from the
west end of the bridge to the intersection, and that
she is now trying to get the funds to include paving
the intersection itself, since FDOT would have to
dig portions of it up to install wiring for the new
The city had also asked FDOT to wire a switch from
the intersection to the bridge tenders office,
so that when the bridge is raised to automobile traffic,
the left turn lane from southbound Gulf Drive to eastbound
Cortez Road would turn red.
This would prevent cars from getting stuck in the
intersection. Kinney said, however, that they could
not afford to do that and would put a weight sensor
in Cortez Road to tell the stoplight computer when
eastbound traffic was backing up.
She said FDOT would refinish the sidewalks at the
intersection to make them more accessible to the handicapped.
Piazza said that they would solicit bids on the projects
in May and would choose a contractor within 90 days.
He said the projects should be completed by late summer.
set 30-day stay in R-1 district
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Commissioners rejected a recommendation
by planners to establish a 30-day minimum rental period
in the R-1 and R-2 districts, but did agree to the
minimum in the R-1 district.
The R-1 zoning district is primarily properties from
66th Street to the city limits east of Marina Drive.
There are other pockets of R-1 in the north, central
and south parts of the city.
"I dont think we have a problem at this
time with the rental situation, but we do have a serious
problem with insurance and tax bills," Mayor
Rich Bohnenberger said during the discussion. "Some
people could be in a situation where they need to
have some type of ability to raise some money to pay
"They cant even sell their homes because
theres absolutely no market out there. I think
its the wrong time to consider this."
"I would point out that you dont have a
problem there now," planning consultant Bill
Brisson said. "There are very few (rentals) there.
You can stop it before it gets to be a problem."
Brisson said that property owners with existing licenses
for seven-day rentals would be grandfathered. There
is a seven-day minimum in the R-2, R-3 and R-4 districts,
and a 30-day minimum in the R-1AA (Key Royale) district.
The residential rental limit was part of the revisions
to the citys land development code that planners
worked on for a year. The rental issue was their most
controversial recommendation and it prompted such
a flurry of protest that planners held a special meeting
to let people air their concerns.
Commissioners completed their review of planners
recommendations last week and will hold public hearings
on the suggested changes.