Vol 7 No. 45 - August 1, 2007

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Gas port, pipeline proposed off Island

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Company planning adult biz

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Cities oppose trolley fee

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper County approves $5.1 million for tourism

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Pastry café slated for Tip

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Community Center to reassess after-school rates

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper One Saturday at Coquina Beach

Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper Paving request continued to Aug. 23




Gas port, pipeline proposed off Island

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

A proposed port 28 miles off Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico would convert liquefied natural gas to natural gas aboard tankers, then transport it to Port Manatee through a 42-mile underwater pipeline.

Houston-based Port Dolphin Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Norwegian-based Hoegh LNG, has submitted an application to the U.S. Coast Guard for approval of the port, which would consist of two submersible mooring buoys where tankers would offload natural gas into a pipeline.

The two buoys would be about three miles apart, and be anchored to piles driven in the seabed by eight mooring lines consisting of wire rope and chain, according to Port Dolphin Energy.

The tankers, themselves propelled by natural gas, would moor at the buoys for four to eight days. When no tankers are present, the buoys would be submerged 60-70 feet.

The proposed Port Dolphin project would not be visible from shore, according to the company.

"It certainly bears watching," said Joan Perry, an Island resident and a director of environmental group ManaSota-88, which plans to file comments listing concerns about the potential impacts of the project.

"I don’t know what damage to the fishery would be done, but the Coast Guard has called for an environmental impact analysis," she said. "It’s great to have natural gas, however, some of the ways they’re transporting it are not so great."

The environmental impact analysis is scheduled to be completed in November, after which a public hearing will be set.

The U.S. Maritime Administration will make the final decision on the port. The approval process is expected to be completed by September 2008, with the port expected to begin operating in spring 2011.

Public comment on the proposed port will be accepted until Aug. 13. To submit a comment, include your name, address, comment and reference number USCG-2007-28532 to the following:

By mail: Docket Management Facility USCG-2007-28532, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C., 20590.

By fax: Docket Management Facility, 202-493-2251.

By e-mail: Through the Web site for the Docket Management System at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on "Comment/Submissions."

Company planning adult biz

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners were shocked about an inquiry the city received recently from a company that wants to film sexual activities and put them on the Internet.

"We are a Bulgarian company," Nikolay Zamfirov said, in the letter faxed to the city July 18. "In the goals of our management, it is included the creation and settlement of American corporation based in the city of Holmes Beach. The manner and the structure of its establishment is a question of a future decision."

Zamfirov goes on to state that the company wishes to rent an office with separate premises equipped with computers, cameras, speakers and microphones to create videos, which will show "specific anatomical zones and specific sexual activities." He said he is seeking information regarding permitting and licensing for the business.

"They had an issue in the Tampa area a couple years ago where they had video cameras in residences and sent pictures out over the Internet," Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said. "Apparently, someone’s looking at the possibility of doing that in Holmes Beach. We need to direct our attorney to craft some kind of regulations."

The inquiry is reminiscent of the weeklong party unveiled in May 2006 at a rental home on Flotilla Drive across from the Island Branch Library. The party was billed as Mandingo Mania and featured adult activities that were sent out over the Internet.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the inquiry was probably sent to all the Island cities, however, Bohnenberger said Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key did not receive it.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the city cannot prohibit adult-oriented businesses, but can regulate them.

Planning consultant Bill Brisson said the city could ban them within a certain distance of residential districts, which could include the entire city. He said 1,000 feet is a common standard.

"There’s no reason a community should have to lower its standard just because it can’t provide a location," Brisson said. "Show that you allow adult-oriented businesses in the C-3 district and show that there are no eligible locations."

Petruff said she would bring draft language to the Aug. 28 commission meeting.

Cities oppose trolley fee

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

Commissioners in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria objected to a county proposal to charge a fee for the Island trolley.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who attended both commission meetings last week, told Anna Maria commissioners that she would suggest selling advertising on the inside of the trolleys to to generate revenue instead of charging riders a fee. She said 400,000 people rode the trolley last year.

"The idea of advertising on the interior of the trolleys is a great idea," Anna Maria Commissioner Chris Tollette said. "I imagine that the businesses on the Island would love that."

"We pay so much more in taxes out here and get so much less in return," Anna Maria Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick stressed. "To take away the free trolley is unfair. It seems they could cut in other areas."

Whitmore said that when the trolley began in 2002, the state guaranteed that it would be free only for three years.

In Holmes Beach, Manatee County Transit Manager Ralf Heseler explained, "It’s still a work in progress. The county fiscal department told us to come up with cuts and identify revenues that could be generated. We’re asking you to look at 50 cents a ride. This portion of our system has enjoyed three times the level of service as other parts of the county."

Whitmore said staff members had suggested a fee of $1 per day for unlimited trips as opposed to the fee of 50 cents per trip discussed by county commissioners last week. Heseler said a fee of 50 cents per ride would bring in $132,000.

Holmes Beach Commissioner John Monetti asked if she is sure there will be a fee.

"If we’re going to charge the people in town to transfer, then it’s only fair that we have to pay something," Whitmore replied.

"Except for the fairness of what proportion of the taxes of this county that we pay," Monetti pointed out.

Don Schroder, of Remax and the AMI Chamber of Commerce, said Island residents make up 2 percent of the county’s population but pay 15 percent of the taxes.

"I don’t think our system compares to the one in town," Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino said. "Tourists that ride it contribute to businesses on the Island. If we start charging, I think tourists would feel nickel and dimed to death."

Monetti agreed and noted, "It’s the essence of coming to Anna Maria. It takes a lot of subtle and not subtle items to create that overall experience. I get a lot of comments saying how cool it is that it’s free. It’s part of what brings people here. You’re going to lose that."

Heseler said that’s why the day pass is being considered and if the trolley remains free, the county could lose a route that people take to work.

Whitmore said that 60 percent of trolley riders are taking it to work. Zaccagnino said if the county charged $1 per day, it would cost more than $300 per year for someone to get to work.

"That’s not chump change for a worker," he pointed out. "That’s a lot for a waiter or waitress."

"Trust me. This is my baby and I don’t want to charge," Whitmore stressed. "If I have to make that decision, I have to look at the whole picture. If I can get three more votes to support no charge, I will."


County approves $5.1 million for tourism

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

The Manatee County Commission approved a $5.1 million budget for the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau last week.

Nearly half of the county tourism budget for fiscal year 2007-08 is allocated for marketing, which includes $943,575 for advertising, $792,300 for contracts and $200,900 for travel and promotions.

About a quarter of the budget, or $1.2 million, is allocated for the beach fund, which pays for beach renourishment and cleaning.

Lesser amounts are allocated for administration, taxes, the South Florida Museum, the city of Bradenton and other expenditures.

According to statistics provided by Manatee County Tax Collector Ken Burton, more than half of the county’s tourism revenues are produced by tourism businesses on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

The four Island municipalities – Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island, and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key – have collected $2,317,178 so far this fiscal year, from Oct. 1, 2006 through July 25, 2007. Total collections countywide were $4,401,739.

In seven of the 10 months of the current fiscal year, Holmes Beach raked in the most of all the four Island cities, with $935,499. The Manatee County portion of Longboat Key came in a close second with $850,704, while Bradenton Beach placed third with $377,529 and Anna Maria trailed in fourth place with $153,446.

Bradenton, Palmetto and unincorporated Manatee County account for the remainder of the tourist revenue collections.

The CVB’s advertising and marketing efforts promote both Island and mainland destinations and businesses, Commissioner Jane von Hahmann said.

In addition, Island residents and tourists visiting the Island use facilities on the mainland such as the Manatee Convention Center and the Crosley Estate, Commissioner Carol Whitmore said.

In other business, the commission approved $7,000 in leftover promotional funds for Jazz on the Islands to be redirected to pay for jazz musicians at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, water taxi service from Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key to the Crosley Estate for an Aug. 10 jazz concert and other expenses.

The month-long August event, which will feature live jazz in restaurants and bars on Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and other Manatee County venues, is being marketed on a German jazz radio station website, Jazzradio.net, that will broadcast from the Island during the month.

Participating jazz musicians’ styles can be sampled at www.jazzontheislands.com.

The commission also appointed Tom Jung, general manager of the Holiday Inn Riverfront in Bradenton, to replace Joe Pickett on the Manatee County Tourist Development Council. The council advises the commission on tourism marketing.


Pastry café slated for Tip

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

The Tip of the Island at 204 Palmetto Ave., Anna Maria is no more, and there are new owners and a new direction for the venerable lounge and eatery.

Brothers Don and Matt Schole, with the help of their parents, are the new tenants and they plan on opening a pastry café.

The Schole brothers, natives of Bradenton, have closed the restaurant and hope to reopen by mid September. Matt attended Manatee Technical Institute (MTI) where he was schooled as a chef, and he recently worked at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sarasota. Now that they have their own establishment, they are considering various options for menus, hours of operation and potential customers.

They intend on keeping the oven busy, offering pastries and wedding cakes. Plans at this time include serving cappuccino, expresso coffee and perhaps a smoothie bar for their walk-in customers to enjoy. They are also looking at a small deli menu for lunch and dinner and a Sunday brunch and wine tastings, but there’s more.

They would like to develop a customer base among restaurants who don’t bake their desserts fresh. They are also considering catering, especially for weddings. Matt also wants to make sure he gives back to his alma mater. He intends on employing interns from MTI.

They are still considering a name for their new establishment, but whatever it becomes, it will still have the same phone number, 778-3909.


Community Center to reassess after-school rates

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – When school opens on Aug. 20, the after-school program at the Anna Maria Island Community Center will move back to the Center after a year of being held at Anna Maria Elementary School to accommodate the construction at the Center.

It’s will be a new year in a new setting, thanks to the Center’s rehabilitation. Other things that will be new are the hours of operation and the cost.

While the rates are not set yet, April Jonatzke, who runs the program, said they are preparing for the new hours.

The big change comes on Wednesdays, when kids are let out of school at 1:15 p.m. instead of 3:05 p.m. The change was made by the School Board to allow teachers more time for instructional planning.

Following school, the kids who are enrolled in after-school care will get on a bus and head for the Community Center, where they will have plenty to do.

"They’ll do homework and play educational and academic games," Jonatzke said. "We plan on having some culinary arts, performing arts, sports with Andy and life skills, which includes peer counseling."

Jonatzke said they averaged 55 students in the after-school program last school year and they expect as many this year. All of their enrollees came from Anna Maria Elementary School. Jonatzke said they would have a rate for parents who need to use the after school only on Wednesdays.

In addition to after school, the Community Center will also provide before-school care. Jonatzke said it would be held at the school. Elementary school will begin at 8:30 a.m. this year. She said they don’t yet have the starting time for the before-school care.

Parents will be informed of the new rates sometime before the school year begins.



One Saturday at Coquina Beach

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – The gazebos at Coquina Beach get a lot of use throughout the year and last Saturday, it was time for Orthodontics Specialists, of Bradenton, to invite its patients out for a celebration.

According to Dr. Jeffrey S. Thompson, president of the company, there were at least 200 people enjoying the weather. His father, Dr. William J. Thompson, who founded the company in 1959 and recently retired, was there.

In the past, the company had invited patients to the South Florida Museum for an annual gathering, but Jeffrey Thompson said he felt compelled to move it to Coquina Beach this year.

"After the shooting (on Easter), I felt we should show some support of what the county did to make the park safe," he said. "We really enjoy all the parking they created around the gazebo. It’s a lot nicer now."

After that gang-related shooting of two men, the county reconfigured the parking lot to eliminate cruising by gang members and make it easier for police to control crowds there.

Thompson, who lives in west Bradenton but also owns a residence on the Island, said a lot of his patients come from his Lakewood Ranch office in east Manatee County and they might not get to the beach much, so he wanted to show them how great it is here.

There was plenty for the patients to do. Caricaturist Dan Smith, of Tampa, drew portraits of everyone who sat for him and steel drum player Clarence Brown, of Tampa, provided the music. A group of young ladies put faux tattoos on and painted the faces of the children. Members of the Pyrates of the Gulf Coast served food from the First Priority Bank trailer.

Another Saturday comes and goes at the gazebos at Coquina Park. Last weekend, a bunch of people found out how great it is to be on the Island during the heat of summer.


Paving request continued to Aug. 23

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners put on hold a paving request by Public Works Supervisor George McKay until they could get more information.

Mayor Fran Barford said the paving of the streets around the Community Center was postponed due to construction at the Center, but now the city can go forward.

McKay said there are two options: to pave the streets that form a horseshoe around the Community Center for $28,000 or to include Magnolia Avenue from Gulf Drive to South Bay Boulevard for $64,000.

Commissioner Dale Woodland pointed out that McKay had given them four bid sheets for $64,546 (Magnolia and Palm avenues, Maxine Place and Crescent Drive), $48,352 (Magnolia and Palm avenues and Crescent Drive, $15,840 (Magnolia from South Bay Boulevard to Gulf Drive) and $28,306 (Magnolia Avenue at Crescent Drive).

"I’m a little confused about these," Woodland said. "Are you asking us to approve the bid for $28,306?"

"I think what George is trying to say is do you want him to do it all or just the area surrounding the Community Center?" Finance Director Diane Percycoe offered. "You have to take into consideration the mobilization cost of coming out here. If you do it all at once, you have one mobilization cost."

Barford said she had asked McKay to get figures for paving all of Magnolia Avenue, which was part of the original line of credit, in addition to the area around the Center.

Commissioner Chris Tollette asked why an area of Maxine Drive was left out of the paving plan, and McKay said it is in front of the docks and the shell there is sufficient

"I don’t have a problem with the paving, but if it’s being funded by the line of credit, I want to make sure it’s in there," Woodland said. "I’m not comfortable moving forward right now because the resolution that we approved on the line of credit was very specific on the amount of money that was borrowed and specifically what it was to be used for."

Barford suggested continuing the discussion to the Aug. 23 commission meeting in order to get more information and commissioners agreed.

In other business, commissioners approved ordinances amending the site plan procedure and alterations and repair of a non-conforming structure, authorized the mayor and city attorney to execute an agreement with Manatee County to install utility lines to the Community Center and authorized the mayor to spend up to $15,000 on a stormwater utility fee study.


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