GRAPHIC PROVIDED BY MANATEE COUNTY
This artist rendering shows what a 700-foot pier
might look like at Manatee Public Beach.
BRADENTON – Manatee County commissioners said they could not justify the additional $1 million to build a 700-foot pier at Manatee Public Beach versus a 312-foot pier.
“On June 9, you directed us to develop a permit and construction plan for the Manatee Beach Pier at 312 feet,” Charlie Hunsicker, natural resources administrator, explained. “When we looked at the footprint of the aerial view and the scale and size of the pier relative to the gently sloping Gulf Beach, we became concerned about the visual effect.”He said a 700-fot pier would be more appropriate in relation to the slope of the beach, however, the expansion would add $1 million to the cost. A 312-foot pier would cost $1.45 million, while a 700-foot pier would cost $2.765 million.
He said the money would come from Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds, and he would develop a financing plan and bring it back to the board in October.
“It looks very nice and probably makes sense, but I can’t see where we’re going to get the money,” Commissioner Carol Whitmore responded.
Commissioner Joe McClash said the long pier is out of character for Holmes Beach and that spending tourist development dollars should produce the biggest benefit for the community. He said the money might be better used helping Bradenton Beach or Anna Maria with their piers.
“If you want to look at an economic impact for tourism, the city of Anna Maria pier draws more people, has more fishing, has a restaurant and may be a more appropriate use of these funds.
“It may need upgrades that the city can’t afford. I guarantee you that will bring more vitality and economics to this community than this pier.”
Whitmore added that the Anna Maria City Pier has been publicized all over the world to market the Island.
However, Commissioner Larry Bustle said the long pier would be a great asset and open up fishing possibilities.
Commissioner John Chappie called it “a want not a need” and commissioner Donna Hayes said spending the extra money is out of the question.
Commissioner Ron Getman said they should not commit TDC funds without its approval.
Chair Dr. Gwen Brown asked why commissioners should make a decision before seeing the financing plan. Hunsicker said it would take about 1½ years to demolish the existing pier and build a new one, and further deliberations would add more time.
McClash made a motion to present the two Manatee Beach pier options to the TDC, ask members to look at the needs of the Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach piers, develop a priority list and report back to the board. It was approved.
Following the meeting, Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford expressed surprise that the board might help fund repairs to the city pier and stressed, “We won’t turn down any money.”