Dispute flares in GSR case
Consultants cost hikes mushroom
Newly paved roads worry residents
Activists to fight for Australian pinesl
Trolley passes Bridge Street test
County plans more preserve activities
County pursues new renourishment funding
ceremony welcomes new ladder truck
hearing set for city comp plan
in GSR case
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
A new skirmish between GSR Development and its creditors
broke out in Tampa bankruptcy court last week as the
court held a three-day evidentiary hearing in the
Chapter 11 case.
GSRs Chief Restructuring Manager, Bill Maloney,
asked the courts permission to hire RoseBay
Real Estate to sell GSRs 15 lots at Villa Rosa
in Anna Maria for a total of $9.1 million.
The court previously had approved RoseBay to sell
GSRs vacant Rosa del Mar property in Bradenton
Beach, and the company has since received numerous
inquiries about Villa Rosa, RoseBay broker Lynn Parker
In his petition, Maloney said RoseBay would seek both
individual lot buyers and developers who might purchase
the entire Villa Rosa property. If a developer is
found, any individual buyers that RoseBay locates
could buy from the developer, Parker said.
The 15 canalfront lots are priced from $560,000 to
$795,000, prices set by Maloney and subject to court
approval. Parker called the prices "within striking
Meanwhile, the official committee of general unsecured
creditors disputed the propertys stated value
and opposed a compromise reached in the case.
They asked the courts permission on Friday to
separately pursue their claims on the Villa Rosa property
against Randall A. Bono, Bon Eau Enterprises, LLC,
a/k/a Bon Eau Investments, Randall A. Bono, LLC, The
Real Estate Law Firm, Thomas Coelho, Derek Filcoff,
Steven Noriega and Robert Byrne.
Noriega and Byrne are principals in GSR.
In their petition, the creditors committee wrote:
"The debtor, and in particular Maloney, has attempted
without any success to market and sell any real estate
assets of the debtor for a price that would return
anything to the estate. This failure does not result
from any lack of ability or other shortcoming on his
part, but from the fact that the market for real estate
on the Island has been shattered."
The court had not yet ruled on the motions as of press
cost hikes mushroom
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH The city commission has agreed
to pay extra expenses incurred by an engineering company,
even though the firm ran up a tab above and beyond
what was authorized without telling the city.
Building Official Ed McAdam brought the problem to
the commissions attention during a regularly
scheduled last Thursday.
On Aug. 31, 2004, Wilson Miller Engineering, was authorized
to bill up to $4,000 for "agency coordination
and permitting" on the Gulf Drive corridor enhancement
project. The city increased that amount by $4,000
later when it became apparent that the mission would
incur more expense. Later, more time and expense were
incurred and the company finally told the city, after
the fact, that it would need an additional $12,000.
McAdam said the increase in expense was due to a long
list of government agencies and their different departments
that were involved in obtaining permitting.
In addition, McAdam said Wilson Miller would need
approximately $12,000 for obtaining 10 easements to
assure a five-foot-wide sidewalk is built along Gulf
Drive. That brought his request for funding authorization
to $24,000 to keep the project, which is due to be
completed later this year, on track.
City Commissioner Bill Shearon said that when the
commission approved the 90-percent plan for the project
last year, they were not told of the impending overrun.
"There was a breakdown in communications,"
Mayor John Chappie explained.
"Im just having a hard time approving stuff
that hasnt been brought before us," Shearon
"I think we need to put a process in motion for
the future so that we can see things as they happen,"
Commissioner Michael Pierce said.
McAdam agreed, saying the city had already changed
the way it allocates work and money for multi-task
projects. He said the engineer for the citys
canal dredging, Townsend and Associates, gets a notice
to proceed for each task with the amount authorized
and the time schedule on it.
"I think you need to insert a bright-colored
page in your contracts saying changes and additional
budget have to be authorized," City Attorney
Ricinda Perry suggested.
The commission approved the additional funds on a
four-to-one vote with Shearon voting against it.
roads worry residents
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA A lot of the roads are newly repaved
in the city, but the job appears to be unfinished.
"I dont know what we can do," said
Bill Snow, a member of the citys capitol improvement
advisory committee. "We talked to George (Public
Works Director George McKay) about the the edges weeks
ago. We emphasized that something needs to be done
before some other poor lady gets hurt."
Snow was referring to an incident where Nancy Pedota
suffered a bad break to her leg when the bicycle she
was riding encountered a pothole at the edge of the
old pavement on Spring Avenue.
Snow said he was in the paving business for more than
20 years up North.
"We always did the edges of the road as part
of the contract," he said. "Either we finished
the edges or we brought the shoulders up to match.
I was surprised that they dont do that in Florida."
Snow said McKay told him he was going to be getting
some kind of an outside contract to get the edges
of the resurfaced roads finished.
"But I havent seen anything," he said.
"There is no oversight. We (the capitol improvement
advisory committee) can only advise. We can outline
what needs to be done and we can arrange the money,
but we have no real power."
Commissioner Dale Woodland is the commissions
liaison to the CIAC. He said he remembers the meeting
where members of the committee expressed concerns
about the edges of the pavement.
"But I dont remember anything specific
being said," Woodland recalled. "We talked
about a lot of things, and I remember we talked about
the edges. Tom (City Engineer Tom Wilcox) said wed
need to get another contract to have someone come
out and put rock at the edges of the pavement. But
I dont know who was going to be responsible
Woodland said hes realizing that theres
no procedure for translating the discussions and wishes
that arise out of CIAC committee meetings into deeds.
"I dont know who should be responsible
for that," he said. "Maybe its the
chairman of the committee; maybe its the public
works director; maybe its the mayor; maybe its
me as the liaison from the commission to the committee.
Its something I definitely will resolve."
Woodland said it is obviously vital that things get
put into writing outlining what needs to be done,
how it is to be done and putting everything into a
fight for Australian pines
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Two groups might combine forces
to take up for the much maligned Australian pine following
Manatee Countys removal of 66 trees along Cortez
and Coquina beaches two weeks ago to make room for
a paved trail.
Activist Marsha Lindsey, who belongs to a group called
STOP (Stop Taking Our Pines) that has fought to keep
the trees in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria, attended
the latest meeting of Save Anna Maria (SAM) at the
request of SAM member Billie Martini.
Martini started the discussion saying she was upset
when she learned that the county was taking down the
trees along the beach.
"I called someone at the county who said we have
no say in what theyre doing," she said.
"He said it was state policy to eradicate Australian
Martini said she asked the county for some information
and got a brochure that listed a whole bunch of reasons
the pines are bad.
"At the end, they listed a few good uses for
the pines such as making poles, fences, furniture,"
she said. "There was no good use for live trees,
Lindsey said she felt there was a place for some of
the pines, but she said she supports keeping them
trimmed so they dont become a hazard in high
Lindsey said she has joined forces with STOP leader
John Molyneux, who is also a member of the Holmes
Beach Beautification committee.
"Our hope is to co-exist with the trees and not
eliminate all of them," she said. "I did
not see enough damage from the 2004-05 hurricane seasons
to change my mind about their safety."
"If we argue with all these governmental agencies,
we need to agree that the trees should be kept pruned,
"If they take down these magnificent shade trees,
they should be required to replace them with other
shade trees," Margaret Chapman said.
Martini suggested that SAM join STOP to fight against
complete eradication of the Australian pines, but
the group voted to table the issue until after the
Holmes Beach Beautification Committee holds its seminar
on native plants on Tuesday, Feb. 20, so they could
learn more about the subject.
In other news from SAM, president Sheila Hurst, vice
president Jay Hill, secretary Nancy Deal and treasurer
Billie Martini were all installed for second one-year
terms. Martini initially said at last months
meeting that she would not serve again and Mollie
McCartney, a newspaper reporter, accepted a nomination,
but McCartney said at this months meeting that
there were complications to her serving as an officer
of the group.
Bridge Street test
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The trolley is likely to be coming to Bridge Street
soon, although it was already there one afternoon.
Bridge Street shop owners and their customers were
startled late last month to see a trolley come rolling
down the street, but they might get used to it some
day. Manatee County Area Transit Director Ralf Heseler
sent a memo to Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie
a week ago saying they would start sending northbound
trolleys down Bridge Street to see if riders would
use it. That may not come until construction of the
pier is finished, since the trolley would have to
use the small roundabout in front of the pier to turn
around. The roundabout is currently closed due to
Several officials from the city and county governments
were on board as the driver tried to navigate the
roundabouts on both ends of the street last month.
"We want to get the feel of this," said
Manatee County Community Services Director Fred Loveland.
"We want to see if this is doable."
Chappie, Bradenton Beach Building Official Ed McAdam,
Manatee County Area Transit official Rodney Beggs,
Hesseler and this reporter all took the ride from
the turnaround at Coquina Beach to Bridge Street and
The experiment had its ups and downs. On the first
trip down from Gulf Drive, the driver started the
turn into the roundabout too late and had to back
up, to avoid parking barriers in front of the Pines
Trailer Park. We went back out onto Gulf Drive northbound
and turned right at city hall where several people
were waiting at the large trolley shelter for a ride.
They tried to get on until we explained that this
was a test ride and was not running the entire route.
We came back to Bridge Street via Bay Drive, where
large beer trucks sometimes park along the road to
supply the restaurants and bars in the commercial
district. Fortunately, there were no trucks parked
there as we drove by. It would have been a tight squeeze.
Once again, we went through the roundabout and this
time it was successful. We didnt have to back
Mayor Chappie said the city could move the sidewalk
on the southeast side of the roundabout to allow drivers
One reason city officials want to have the trolley
come down Bridge Street is to accommodate travelers
with luggage. The city is building a water taxi dock
at the Bridge Street Pier, and officials hope it will
someday bring in tourists without cars.
"I picture tourists getting off their plane at
the airport, taking a shuttle to the Crosley Mansion
and then taking a water taxi across the bay to the
Bridge Street Pier," McAdam said. "From
there, they could take the trolley to where they are
staying and never have to rent a car during their
plans more preserve activities
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The Manatee County Conservation Lands Management
Department has a range of activities planned all month
in county preserves. These free, educational events
are an opportunity to learn more about unspoiled Manatee
County flora and fauna while helping to keep these
lands pristine. Heres the lineup for the rest
of the month:
Friday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. to noon, Emerson Point
Preserve., Home School Program: Mangroves, Mussels
and Mud! In a world where the waters meet, anything
can happen. Trees survive in super salty soil and
stilt-legged birds wade through the water. In this
program, they will use hands-on activities to explore
these phenomena and discover more about these wonderful
waters. Participants will help out the estuary, too,
by picking up trash and making the habitat safe for
the animals that call it home. Come dressed to get
a bit wet. Reservations are required. Call Jill at
Saturday, Feb. 24, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Rye Preserve.
Sunset Shutter Stroll. This evening youll wander
through the woods for a different kind of sunset.
This photo shoot will move from the subtle hues of
dusk into the dark night, giving participants the
incredible opportunity to practice flash photography
for night shots in the woods and through the Rye Family
Cemetery. Spaces are limited and reservations are
required. Call 748-4501, ext. 3654.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7:30 to 11 a.m., Emerson
Point Preserve, Audubon Society Birding Tour. Early
morning is the perfect time to spot birds in the countys
preserves. Learn to identify local birds and migratory
visitors as you tour this preserve with the Audubon
Societys master birders, John Ginaven and Stuart
Hills. Reservations are required. Call John at 798-9829.
new renourishment funding
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH The stage is still set to
bring new sand to Coquina Beach, but who will help
pay for it and what quality it will be is still unsettled.
Manatee County had planned on getting sand from a
dredging project off the south end of Jewfish Key
and the north end of Sister Key, near Longboat Pass,
to be used to renourish Coquina and Cortez Beaches,
which had not been renourished previously.
After disclosing the fact that core samples from Longboat
Pass and the Intracoastal Waterway showed dark sand,
Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Administrator
Charlie Hunsicker had more unsettling news for county
commissioners on Tuesday.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been unable
to get the funding for the total restoration of those
areas," he told The Sun. "In lieu of that,
the board directed our office to seek out funding
from the West Coast Inland Navigation District and
get nationwide navigational permits to remove the
Hunsicker said the county would seek a state grant
to pay for half the cost, estimated to be up to $5
million. The county would pay its half of the cost
with funds from the tax on lodgings. A percentage
of those taxes is dedicated to beach maintenance.
Hunsicker said that if the county gets the grant and
manages the dredging, it would control the quality
of the sand that might go on the beaches, which are
popular destinations for locals and tourists.
"The West Coast Inland Navigation District found
two disposal sites for the sand that are not on the
beach," he said. "We can separate bad from
"Since the new dredging will be a smaller project
than what the Corps had planned," he added, "we
will have less sand to store in those off-beach areas."
The original Island renourishment in 1992 did not
extend past Fifth Street South where the residences
ended because the grant said the project was intended
to protect residents and their property.
Subsequent renourishments missed the area because
it was not a part of that original project, and erosion
there has prompted Hunsicker to seek renourish for
those beaches for more than a year. He said if everything
goes as planned, the county would hope to start renourishing
The Corps of Engineers had previously conducted maintenance
dredging projects in the area, which is prone to shoaling
due to inflow and outflow between the Gulf and bay.
Under a previous agreement, Longboat Key and Manatee
County were to have been alternating recipients of
As Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie was speaking
to the county commission last Tuesday evening, Longboat
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis appeared seeking some
of the sand, even though the city had gotten sand
on the previous two dredgings. Hunsicker said the
county might be able to give some of the sand to Longboat
and still get what it needs for Anna Maria Island.
He said the new scenario is better for the Island
than with the old project, which the Army Corps would
"Under this scenario, Manatee County would set
the specifications and hire the contractor,"
he said. "We would be able to control the quality
of the sand going on the beaches."
new ladder truck
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
CORTEZ An old fire department ceremony was
revived to welcome West Manatee Fire & Rescue
Districts new ladder truck earlier this month
at Fire Station 2 in Cortez, which will be home to
Present and retired fire personnel, fire commissioners,
EMS personnel, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore
and representatives of Pierce Manufacturing joined
in the fire stations bay for the wetting down
"The reason we did this early in the morning
is because I wanted to make sure the crews that will
be working of this apparatus would be able to participate
in this new wetting down ceremony," Fire Chief
Andy Price explained
"Weve never done this before, but its
been a tradition in the fire service for many years.
As a department, weve decided that we want to
go back to some of the old traditions."
Price said a committee of fire personnel, including
Battalion Chief Rich Losek and firefighters John Stump,
Paul Hopkins, Nate Bergbom and Mike Bugel, evaluated
the need for a new ladder truck and then made the
case for replacing the old ladder truck with one with
"These are the guys who will be using the truck.
They surveyed the district and found that our old
truck would not reach some of the highest buildings
and the new construction," Price pointed out.
"People are tearing down single-story homes and
putting up the maximum amount of square footage and
height. We found we could not reach the roofs and
we could not get to the sides to put the ground ladders
Also if the truck were not replaced, the districts
Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating would go up,
Price said. A low ISO rating translates into savings
for homeowners on fire insurance premiums.
The truck has a 100-foot ladder tower, which pivots
360 degrees, with a large bucket at the end. The bucket
can hold four firefighters to take them to the top
floors of a building to fight a fire or it can hold
up to four people that firefighters need to evacuate
from a building.
In addition, it contains a 200-gallon per minute pump,
a compressed air foam system, a hydraulic generator
and side air bags to protect firefighters.
Price also thanked the board of fire commissioners
for approving the trucks purchase.
Firefighters then wet down the new truck with hoses,
pushed it back into the station and buffed it out.
Following that, everyone held up their radios to hear
the dispatcher welcome the new truck with the following
announcement, "We would like to wish Truck 123
(old ladder truck) and Ladder 129 (new ladder truck)
and those assigned to them a safe journey and the
skills necessary to provide the best possible service
to our visitors and citizens. Ladder 129 is hereby
placed into service at West Manatee Fire & Rescue
Station 2 this first day of February 2007."
set for city comp plan
By Laurie Krosnay
Sun Staff Writer
ANNA MARIA Public hearings that will start
the real legal process for updating and amending the
citys comprehensive plan are set for early next
"The hearings we held up to this point are all
related to the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR),
which is just a report telling the state how and what
the city plans to do when they update the plan,"
said Planner Tony Arrant. "The EAR is not law,
it is not adopted by ordinance and it does not change
the plan. It is simply a report."
Arrant said the EAR process is complete at this point
and he's preparing copies to be sent to the proper
"Now the city must actually hold the public hearings
to start the real legal process for updating and amending
the comprehensive plan," Arrant said.
He said that these are public hearings where affected
parties should participate, because the result of
these hearings will actually change the Future Land
Use Map and the goals, objectives and policies of
"We included all these changes in the EAR, but
we still have to hold separate public hearings for
the plan amendment process," Arrant said.
The first of two hearings has been scheduled for March
6 at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall. This first
hearing will take place before the planning and zoning
board, which acts as the local planning agency. A
second and final public hearing will be scheduled
before the city commission later.