The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 7 - November 5, 2008


Bridge set to reopen next week

HOLMES BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Bridge looked deserted beyond the barricade last Friday. The eastbound lane was covered with a tarp and all the action was in the middle, where workers were finishing the installation of the metal grate that serves as the driving surface of the moveable bascule.

The tarp covering the roadway was there to allow the new concrete underneath to cure, a process that would take up to Wednesday, Nov. 5, according to Audrey Clarke, spokeswoman for Parsons Brinckerhoff, the project’s managing contractor.

Barring any unforeseen problems, the bridge closure will not extend beyond its projected time period.

"We had a meeting with (construction contractor) Quinn yesterday (last Thursday) and they said the bridge is scheduled to reopen Nov. 13," she said. "They wouldn’t commit to anything else."

The largest portion of the work was the hydraulic demolition of the old concrete covering the roadway and pouring new concrete to replace it. Clarke said that was finished last Wednesday.

"They still have some electrical work to do," she said.

After that, the bridge can be reopened and the remainder of the project will be completed while traffic uses the bridge. The deadline for completing the $9.1 million project is April 2009.

Clarke said that Quinn Construction has a huge incentive to reopen the bridge by Nov. 13. If it does, it gets a $550,000 bonus and if it doesn’t, it loses that bonus and has to pay a $50,000 per day penalty.

So far, the project has gone smoothly, except for recent weather.

"The painter was inhibited by the high winds," she said. "He’s removing the old paint and has to protect the waterways. The winds could blow the old paint off the bridge."

The bridge closure goes for one more week, and everyone has his or her fingers crossed. Clarke said there probably wouldn’t be a ceremony when they reopen the bridge.

"Since they closed it at midnight, they’ll probably reopen it at midnight too," she said.

Kids find fins, fun at fishing tourney
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The kids fishing tournament this past weekend was a perfect
activity for Seren, 9, and her dad, Scott McQueen, who were
visiting from Wales in the UK. Seren thought the event was

BRADENTON BEACH — It was sweatshirt weather, but that didn’t deter the more than 20 kids who turned out with their fishing rods Nov. 1 for a fishing tournament at the Bradenton Beach city pier.

"The kids seemed to have a great time, and I think I might have had the best time of all," said Jake Spooner, the organizer of the tournament. "They were catching fish like mad."

Kids from 5 to 12 were treated to bait and a chance to compete for prizes in several categories.

Tyler Russell caught the biggest fish. Conner Valentine won an award for the smallest while Madelyn Mobley won the prize for the most fish. She caught 32.

Maya Sapienza won for the weirdest fish. It was a puffer fish.

The tournament was sponsored by the Historic Bridge Street Merchants Association, Bridge Street Bazaar, Scenic Waves and Rotten Ralph’s.

Big plans for city pier entrance

ANNA MARIA — A 110-foot boardwalk along the bay. Covered picnic pavilions. Shade trees. Benches to sit on and overlook the water. Bicycle parking. Motorcycle parking. All are part of a vision dreamed up by the Transportation Enhancement Grant Committee.

The committee’s plans for the pier grew out of a long series of meetings on how to spend the $300,000 the city will receive from the Florida Department of Transportation in 2011 to enhance the business corridor in the city. Jo Ann Mattick wrote the grant several years ago before she became a city commissioner. Funds for the design phase of the project will be available in 2010.

At a committee meeting Oct. 27, Tim Eiseler, a member of the committee showed the diagram that incorporated the committee’s ideas to FDOT Engineer Chris Piazza and Community Liaison Agent Manon Lavoie. Both said they thought the After some discussion at city hall, the members of the committee met at the base of the pier where yellow tape marked off where the boardwalk and parking would be.

City Pier Restaurant Manager David Sork said he thought the plans were great.

"I don’t know why we didn’t think of something like this years ago," he said.

Sork did have some concerns about where trucks supplying his restaurant would unload, but Piazza said that could all be worked out.

"I can see this working," Piazza said. "It needs tweaking here and there, but it’s a good plan."

The parking to the north of the pier would be changed to angled parking with the cars facing North Bay Boulevard.

"This is better than the existing parking in some ways," Eiseler said. "The trolley can come in behind the cars, go to the end where it waits, and make the left turn back onto the road more easily than it can now. Sometimes it gets hung up where cars park on the west side of North Bay Boulevard."

While the committee members were looking at the area, a trolley did come through the area where the yellow tape was marking off the new parking areas and the future location of the boardwalk. It made the entrance and turn easily.

There has been a bit of a community flap with some residents and Commissioner Duke Miller wondering why the money would be spent on the base of the pier while the pier itself appears to be in bad repair.

"If those funds can be used to fix the pier, they should be," Miller said. "That’s a major community asset, and it’s falling apart."

However, the funds in the grant cannot be used to fix the pier.

"Those are federal funds, and they cannot be used for maintenance projects," said Cindy Clemmons-Adente, an FDOT spokeswoman. "The type of repair that that facility (the city pier) needs would not be an allowable use for the funds."

Miller noted that he said "if the money can be used for the pier itself."

"If the money can’t be used that way, it can’t be," he said, and added that he hopes the city will find other sources maintaining the pier in good repair.

The committee plans to present its ideas to the city commission at its Nov. 20 meeting. Piazza said he would have some preliminary numbers worked up by then and would be able to comment on the financial feasibility of the plans.

Commissioners approve $38,100 for bridge fix
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND Workers repair the humpback bridge
on North Bay Boulevard Monday morning.

ANNA MARIA — After several weeks of delay, the city commission voted to spend $38,100 to repair the approaches to both the North Bay Boulevard and the Crescent Street Bridges at a special commission meeting on Oct. 31.

Commissioners balked at approving the contract when it came before them at their Oct. 23 meeting, saying they wanted more information about what was causing problems. They also wanted to be sure that the city was getting a warranty.

‘I’m satisfied that this is the way to go," said Commissioner Chris Tollette. "I’ve researched the product, and I think it’s a good one."

Uretek ICR, LLC, a Lakeland firm, will begin work sometime this month. It will use a polyurethane material, which will be injected, into voids that have developed under the approaches to the two bridges. The voids under the north approach to the North Bay Boulevard Bridge are the worst.

Soil and sand have been leaking out behind the apron that holds back the soil on the approaches. Testing showed that some hollow areas are as much as 8 or 9 feet deep.

"It’s probably wave and tidal action along the bottom of those aprons that caused the soil to leach out," City Engineer Tom Wilcox told commissioners at an earlier meeting. "They’ll seal the bottoms of those aprons and will try to get 2 feet below the water, but that will depend on conditions as to whether or not they can get that deep."

The problem was discovered during a routine bridge inspection last June by the Florida Department of Transportation, when depressions were noted in the road at the approaches.

The polyurethane product will be injected into the voids where it’s expected to provide a firm bed for the roadways leading to the bridges. The product expands and fills in nearby voids in the soil when it’s injected, according to Wilcox.

There was some discussion about only fixing the North Bay Bridge approach, which would have cost $20,100.

"We might as well repair both bridges at the same time rather than fix one and then have to pay a mobilization fee again later to fix the other," said Commissioner John Quam. "It’s better to be proactive."

Public Works Director George McKay said he’d contact Uretek and ask it to get started on the repairs as soon as possible.

Another honor for Beach Bistro

Once again, Beach Bistro has been awarded the highest Zagat ranking for food excellence with 28 out of 30 points. The restaurant also scored 27 out of 30 points for service.

"28 for food and 27 for service are the highest scores in the state and some of the highest in the country," Beach Bistro owner Sean Murphy said. "Higher scores have been increasingly difficult to accomplish. The numbers arrived on my birthday – it was a very special gift."

Beach Bistro has consistently achieved rankings at the highest levels since the Zagat organization began to rank Florida restaurants over 10 years ago. As a result of its high scores, the Beach Bistro has also been regularly included in Zagat's Top Restaurants in America guides. Beach Bistro has been serving the best food on the Gulf Coast for 23 years, according to the Zagat guide.

The restaurant has also been included in the Florida Trend Golden Spoon Hall of Fame after winning seven Golden Spoon awards.

The Bistro has more than 300 wines on its wine list, earning it the honor of being one of the top wine restaurants in the world by Wine Spectator magazine. Beach Bistro has also won seven Golden Spoon awards, given to the top 20 restaurants in the state and is now a member of the Golden Spoon Hall of Fame. For more information, visit

Bikers have fun at Island poker run
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The winners of the Peoples Chose award for best ride were (motorcycles)
Mike Hawn, second place; Jim and Pegg Bode, first place; and Mike
Gartman, third place; and (scooters) Julie Quinlivan, first place;
Ed Ice, third place; and Dianne Ice, second place.

HOLMES BEACH – The parking lot at Duffy’s looked like a motorcycle dealership last Saturday after the riders in the Island Fun Poker Run gathered to have their entries judged and to see who won the prizes.

Organizer Christine Holmes said that there was a lot of interest in making this an annual event and she said she would organize it again.

"If there’s interest in it, then, yes, I would be willing, if we do it like we did this time," she said. "I might add more stops to give the riders more of a chance to explore the Island."

Holmes said that 28 people participated on 19 motorcycles and scooters. Prize sponsor Michael Gartman brought his bright blue Harley and, in fact, all of the motorcycles except one were manufactured by the Milwaukee-based company. The other organizer, Laura McAdams arrived on a Harley with her husband, Colin.

In the spirit of competition, Mike and Karen LaPensee arrived in a rented motor scooter. Others brought scooters of all sizes and colors.

The riders were given a map and list of stops where they would get evidence they were there and discount on merchandise. They also drew cards for the poker hand competition at Duffy’s. Finally, the participants had their "rides" judged.

The winners of the people’s choice best looking scooters were Julie Quinlivan for first place, Dianne Ice took second and her husband, Ed, took third.

Jim and Peggy Bode took first place with their motorcycle, Mike Hawn took second and Mike Gartman took third. First place winners got $250, second place won $150 and third place fetched $50 for the riders.

Gartman took first place in the poker hands with a full house queens and fours, Greg Bayer came in second with a full house nines and sixes and Quinlivan took third with a kings high flush.

Request to park construction vehicles continued

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners continued a request by John Agnelli for a special exception to park construction equipment at Agnelli Group Professional Park, 6000 Marina Drive, to Nov. 18 so city staff could be present to make a presentation.

Agnelli’s attorney, Ricinda Perry, elected to proceed with her presentation without staff present and pointed out that the business is in the city most intense commercial zone.

"He parks commercial vehicles with trailers in the back of his property on an occasional basis," Perry said. "He put in a fence and tree buffering to be a good neighbor."

Perry cited the definition of a commercial vehicle and noted, "It is clear that a truck with a trailer is a vehicle carrying goods and providing a service to people. My client has four to six commercial vehicles with trailers."

The city has asked for a specifics on the number and types of construction equipment that will be parked there and a staff report noted, "I do not think that ‘commercial vehicle’ is enough of a description to make a determination of allowable equipment to be parked or stored adjacent to a residential area."

Land planner Bob Schmitt, representing Agnelli, said his client has done a good job of improving the property and landscaping and buffering and pointed out that the owners who are objecting to the request built their houses after Agnelli bought the property.

In favor

Dave Dickson, of Island Mortgage Services, who rents an office in Agnelli’s building, said, "It’s very important to me as a business owner that the building be presentable. He’s more than met my needs. There’s constant improvement to that property."

Hs noted that Agnelli has made certain pieces of the equipment available to the city in times of emergency.

AMI Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Brockman said Agnelli is an active member of the Chamber and the community.

"We need to support our businesses," she stressed. "We’re all here to help each other. The property is in excellent condition and I think it looks beautiful."

John Wize said he lives within 200 feet of the property and Agnelli has made tremendous improvements to it.

Linda Dickson, of Island Mortgage Services, aid it is a comfort to know that there’s a business that allows the city to use its vehicles for emergencies.

In opposition

Attorney Bob Hendrickson, representing four property owners opposed to the special exception, said, "I want to make it clear my thoughts are not directed to Mr. Agnelli. He’s a good neighbor. My clients are concerned that a special exception follows the land, not the owner."

He said his clients also are concerned about the types of equipment that will be parked there, the possibility of construction materials being stored there and that fabrication could occur. He pointed out that while the business was there when they built their homes, the special exception use was not.

"This is a new use," he said. "A special exception requires a great deal of thought and consideration by the commission because of the impacts to the neighbors. These requests are not routine."

In addition to Hendrickson’s clients, several other neighbors presented letters of objection.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff suggested that before the request comes back to the commission, Perry and Hendrickson get together and agree on a list of stipulations. She said if the commission approves the request on Nov. 18, she could write a resolution including the stipulations and the commission could approve it at its December meeting.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked if a special exception always goes with the land. Petruff said the commission could limit it to the owner and require the owner to return to the commission for re-evaluation in a specified number of years.

Bridging the Gap Briefs
Arts and culture weekend planned

Experience the arts and culture of Anna Maria Island at artsHOP weekend on Friday through Sunday, Nov. 14 through 16. The event is sponsored by Cultural Connections of Anna Maria Island.

Five locations are featured Friday including:

• Island Historical Museum, 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, Seminole Indian clothing exhibit, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Anna Maria Island Art League, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach, open house featuring Florida wildlife-themed Fauna and Florida exhibit and raffle of Robert Johnson’s wildlife painting to benefit Wildlife, Inc., of Bradenton Beach, 5:30 p.m.;
• Artists Guild Gallery, 5414 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, open house featuring the work of Cheryl Jorgenson, a community art project and a raffle, 5:30 p.m.;
• Island Gallery West, 5368 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, open house featuring the work of Barbara Orear and a raffle, 5:30 p.m.
• The Studio at Gulf and Pine, Anna Maria, opening reception for Women’s Contemporary Art Exhibit, 4 to 7 p.m.;
Saturday’s events include:
• Bridge Street Market, Bradenton Beach, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
• Island Historical Museum, Seminole Indian clothing exhibit, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
• Arts and Crafts Show in the Holmes Beach field to benefit the Island Butterfly Park, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
• Island Players, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, live performance, 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 by calling 778-5755.
Sunday offerings are:
• Arts and Crafts Show in the Holmes Beach field to benefit the Island Butterfly Park, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.;
• AMI Community Chorus and Orchestra, afternoon concert at Crosspointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 2 p.m. Call 778-8585 for tickets.

Concert on the Green seeking sponsors

The Island Community Center is seeking 20 sponsors to donate at least $25 each to the Center’s Concert on the Green on Nov. 15 in order to keep the concert free. The concert will celebrate the Center’s 48th anniversary and its first year in the new Center.

Food and craft vendors will be offering their wares from noon to 4 p.m. and the concert will be held on the Center’s fields from 1 to 4 p.m. The featured band is Yesterdayze, a high-energy, six-piece band with great vocals re-creating your favorite songs from the 60s.

Participants are asked not to bring food or drinks as there will be a variety of food, beer, sodas and water for sale. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets and be prepared to have fun.

Sponsors to date include Island Scooter Store, Gagne Construction, Carol Conte/Head Quarters Salon, Debbie Hynds /AMI Real Estate Inc. and Kimball Construction. Send your tax-deductible donation to AMI Community Center, P. O. Box 1253, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

Play in golf tourney at Key Royale

The Key Royale Golf Club has graciously agreed to open its course to non-members for the Gap’s family golf tournament on Saturday, Nov. 15. It is open to all players, including juniors 10 years old and older who own their own clubs.

Registration starts at 11 a.m. and the tournament begins at noon. There will be gift bags, team and individual prizes and optional games of chance.

The tournament is limited to the first 72 players and applications with the entry fee of $18 must be submitted to the Key Royale Golf Club, 700 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, or the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, by Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Find application forms at the Key Royale Club, the Community Center, The Sun, 9801 Gulf Drive , Anna Maria and the AMI Chamber, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. All proceeds will be donated to the Center’s Bud Stokes Junior Golf Program.

Cheer on winners at karaoke finals

The Gap’s karaoke finals will be held on Friday, Nov. 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the original Rotten Ralph’s, 902 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria. Two winners from each of the previous contests will compete for prizes.

The first place winner will receive $200 and a CD recording session and the second place winner will receive a gift certificate for dinner for two at the Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant.

Jump aboard the open house trolley tour

The Gap’s Progressive Realtor Open House trolley Tour will now include not only real estate offices, but also businesses offering home-related products and services and individual owners who are selling their homes.

"It will let people window shop to see what’s out there," Chair Sandy Rich said.

The event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15, from 1 to 4 p.m., and people can get a list of participating offices, homes and businesses by boarding the Island trolley for the tour. Refreshments will be available at most stops. Contact Rich at 778-0426 for information.

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