By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH – The paint is dry and the deck has been pressure washed and if the city commission gives its approval this Thursday, the Bridge Street Pier will be open to the public on Saturday morning, according to Mayor John Chappie.
The pier committee met for the last time last Friday morning. Instead of having the meeting at the Tingley Memorial Library, they met in the restaurant that will likely open a week after this.
The list of things left to do on the $2.5 million pier rehabilitation was down to nearly nothing at the meeting and when members reached the end of the agenda, they agreed that this would be their last meeting. Before disbanding, they got together at the entrance to the pier to pose for a picture.
Anglers will be happy to hear the news, but they need to know that the bait shop is not open and won’t be until a franchisee is chosen, so they need to bring their own bait.
The pier was closed March 10, 2005, after an inspector called the structure unsafe. The report also said that the restaurant and bait shop, which had suffered roof damage during storms the previous year, were unsafe and might have to be replaced.
The city commission had previously sought bids to fix the roofs, but decided to look into a larger rehabilitation after closing it.
Mayor John Chappie formed a committee to look at all facets of the rehabilitation. The city’s department heads joined, as well as Commissioner Bill Shearon, who acted as the liaison.
After the architecture firm of C. Thomas O’Brien was chosen to design the pier and Southern Cross Contracting, Inc. was chosen as the contractor, they sent representatives to join the city pier team, which met weekly. Dave and Doreen Russell also attended the meetings when their business, Rotten Ralph’s, was chosen as the restaurant franchisee.
The mayor and commission got a $2.5 million line of credit and when the bid for the work came in at $2.2 million, they felt they had a cushion.
During the course of construction, there were some problems resulting in new work orders that usually raised the cost of the project. The team was under strict orders not to approve any work that raised the cost without getting city commission approval.
At one point, the team approved adding 400 square feet to the design of the pier restaurant when a restaurant consultant recommended more room for the kitchen equipment. That slipped past the group and was not brought before the commission. At that time, Chappie replaced Shearon as the liaison.
As the final touches are completed, the city is still counting pennies and is not sure how much, if any, it has gone over that $2.5 million budget.