The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 52 - October 10, 2012


Grand opening at Grassy Point
Carol Whitmore

HOLMES BEACH – After 10 years, the city’s environmental preserve along Sarasota Bay is ready to welcome the public.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting is planned for Thursday, Oct. 18, at 9 a.m. at the 32- acre preserve located along the east side of Gulf Drive across from Publix and the Anna Maria Island Center. It is accessed via Avenue C.

Representatives of the city, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, Keep Manatee Beautiful, Anna Maria Elementary School and the AMI Chamber of Commerce will join the public in the celebration.

The preserve includes a 1,000-foot nature trail around the upland portion, three picnic tables, an informational kiosk, a bicycle rack and four parking spaces. It will be open only during daylight hours.

The project began in 1999, when the city received state funding to acquire the preserve and completed the purchase of a 32-acre portion in 2002. The city had plans to provide open space and passive recreational and educational opportunities in the preserve, but funding has been a problem.

Last year it the city removed exotics and used the tree trunks to delineate the nature trail. Then it added the other amenities.

Future plans include a boardwalk from the end of the upland portion to Anna Maria Sound with an observation tower midway and an observation deck at the end. Another boardwalk, which will connect with the nature trail, is planned over the wetland portion of the project along East Bay Drive.

Photos from the
Grassy Point as seen from the air looking roughly south.
The preserve is the large green area at the center of the photo.

Huge effort planned to help ease hunger

ANNA MARIA – Last month, the Grand Challenge, Manatee County’s food drive for Food Bank of Manatee, raised more than 21 tons of food and nearly $39,000 to help the bank feed local families.

“There’s still a huge need in Manatee County for food,” said Mary Selby, and Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE), a social charity, hopes to help fill that need by mobilizing 500 volunteers on the Island to package 100,000 meals in one day.

“I e-mailed Don Campbell, the founder of FCE about the food drive for the food bank and within hours, he pledged 50,000 meals and did it three times,” Selby explained.

Selby got together with Kim Darnell, of Holmes Beach, to plan a local food-packaging event, Love Local Anna Maria Island, in order to continue to fill the food bank shelves. During the event, volunteers package healthy meals on assembly lines set up and managed by FCE.

“We need $25,000 to package 100,000 meals,” she explained. “They bring in big trucks filed with bulk food and we package it, seal it and box it,” Selby said.

“One package costs $1.50 and feeds six people. It is a healthy, nutritious meal of lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables and pink Himalayan sea salt for minerals.”

The packaging event is planned for Saturday Nov. 3, in the Holmes Beach field by city hall from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. In case of inclement weather, there will be an alternate location TBD.

To donate or volunteer as an individual or as a group from your work place, call Selby at 779-1809 or go to the FCE website at and click on Upcoming Events, then Love Local Anna Maria Island. Visitors to the website can also order exclusive event T-shirts.

Arbitration sought in beach plan lawsuit

BRADENTON BEACH – Three residents who have filed a complaint in Circuit Court against the city over a joint parking lot and sand dune project on the beach with the BeachHouse restaurant are ready to make a deal.

Jo Ann Meilner, who filed the action with former city commissioner Bill Shearon and his partner, Tjet Martin, spoke at the city commission meeting Thursday night, Oct. 5, and said they would drop their action if the city would agree to have a judge arbiter decide the case.

“That would be binding,” she said.

Meilner said the three decided to make this offer because the city already faces legal action in other cases and this would reduce the legal charges the city is paying.

The city commission did not react to the offer at the meeting because the subject was not on the agenda.

The trio filed the complaint June 4, charging the city passed the plan, even though they claim it is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan. Their attorney is former Bradenton Beach City Attorney Ralf Brookes.

They allege the development of parking spaces on the land, designated as Preservation in the future land use map, is not allowed.

The complaint asks that the court, if it finds the city in violation, order the city to reverse its approval of its development.

The city, through attorney Charles Johnson, of Blaylock and Walters P.A., answered the trio’s charges claiming they did not file the complaint within a specified time period, the three do not have standing in the case and the property has been used for parking in the past. The answer also claims the city has the right to decide uses in the Preservation land use category and the parking use has been grandfathered.

Board recommends new parking and pool rules

HOLMES BEACH – Planning commissioners recommended approval with suggested changes of an ordinance establishing the number of parking spaces per bedroom and swimming pool setback and safety regulations.

The current code requires two off street parking spaces for each dwelling unit. The draft revision would require that for any dwelling unit with more than two bedrooms, one additional parking space must be provided for each additional bedroom.

However, Planner Bill Brisson said new board member Scott Rudacille had a concern about existing three bedroom residential units.

“We’re not talking about vacation rentals; we’re talking about houses in a residential district,” Rudacille said. “When you start increasing the number of required parking spaces, you’re just reducing your green space.”

“There’s a lot of them throughout the city, and they could be made nonconforming,” Brisson pointed out. “Generally that’s no real problem unless they start to do something to that unit such as expand.”

Brisson said 1,600 units could be affected, and he developed two alternatives to the draft revision.

“Alternative #1 leaves existing homes unaffected by the new parking requirement unless the owner should choose to expand the number of bedrooms in the dwelling,” he explained.

“Alternative #2 reduces the number of nonconformities, but still requires additional parking for dwelling units with more than three bedrooms. Units with more than three bedrooms have not been the historical norm.”

Language change

After some discussion, board members agreed to accept Alternative #1, which states:
• For dwelling units having received a certificate of occupancy prior to (date to be determined; April 1, 2012 suggested), a minimum of two off street parking spaces shall be required for each dwelling unit.
• For any dwelling unit receiving a building permit for construction after (date to be determined; April 1, 2012 suggested), which construction results in their being three or more bedrooms in the dwelling unit, one off street parking space shall be provided for each and every bedroom in the dwelling unit.
• A garage or carport is considered to satisfy this requirement to the extent that it contributes toward the number of required parking spaces. The number of parking spaces attributable to the garage or carport shall be directly proportionate to the number of vehicles that may be accommodated by the area contained within the garage or carport.
Chair Sue Normand suggested adding language to Alternative 1 that insures the any space that counts for parking remains available for parking and that any structural changes to the dwelling that would count as a bedroom would require the addition of a parking space.

Swimming pools

Board members also discussed the following new requirements for swimming pools:
• After the effective date of this ordinance, new swimming polls, adjacent decks and any ancillary structures such as fountains, grottos and slides must be set back a minimum of five feet from the property boundary.
• All swimming pools, decks and any ancillary structures such as fountains, grottos or slides shall not be located closer that five feet to the property boundary. The five-foot minimum setback applies to the pool, adjacent decks and any ancillary structures such as fountains, grottos and slides.
• All swimming pool equipment on property in or adjacent to residential zoning districts shall be located within an enclosure designed to baffle the noise emanating from the pool equipment.
• Any slides constructed at pools in residential zoning districts shall not exceed six feet in height.
Normand asked that fences be added to the first provision.
One member asked about existing pools, and Brisson said the new code would not affect them.

Library reopening set

The Island Branch Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, is reopening on Wednesday, Oct. 17, with a celebration from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and tours until 7 p.m., according to Library Division Director Ava Ehde, former librarian at the Island Branch.

Manatee County closed the library May for renovations budgeted at $200,000. The improvements included new interior and exterior paint, new carpeting, new ceilings and improved lighting, especially in the restrooms.

The Friends of the Island Library gave $50,000 for improvements to wiring for electronics, new cabinetry at the front desk and office and other projects that make the job easier.

Ehde said the library would be open for business at regular hours starting Thursday, Oct. 18.

tom vaught | sun
The Island Branch Library will reopen on Wednesday, Oct. 17,
with a celebration from 3:30 to 4:40 p.m. and tours until 7 p.m.

Commissioners differ on roundabout study

File photo
This is an architect’s rendering of the proposed
roundabout at Gulf and Marina drives.


HOLMES BEACH – Chair David Zaccagnino sought direction on whether to ask the county for money for an engineering study of a roundabout at the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives.

The roundabout is part of a plan presented to commissioners last year by the Holmes Beach Merchants group, which said it could slow traffic and improve pedestrian safety.

“I feel somewhere down the road there might be some money coming to the county for shovel ready projects. I thought we could approach (Manatee County) Commissioner Chappie and ask if he could get some county engineers to get this shovel ready in case some money comes in,” Zaccagnino said regarding the roundabout project.

Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens said she didn’t think that fire trucks and semitrailers could go through a roundabout.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said the Florida Department of Transportation has money for construction but not for planning and engineering.

Commissioner Pat Morton said businesses at the intersection would not be willing to give up parking spaces for a roundabout and added, “You’re putting the cart before the horse. Talk to the people in the shopping centers first.”

“I like the idea of having it looked at, but before we say we want our money spent on that, people want a pier,” Commissioner John Monetti pointed out.

Zaccagnino said Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker is trying to get money to replace the pier, and continued, “We’re in a Catch 22 situation.”

“Someone needs to spend some money and time on engineering to see if takes parking, and if they recommend a lane being taken away and if it’s going to be safer before this commission can approve or not approve it.”

“Lord knows I’d like downtown Holmes Beach to look better. It’s not very appealing. My frustration is I don’t have a single piece of paper that says, ‘Here are our plans,’” Commissioner Jean Peelen stressed.

“Some one will have to spend money to get that specific plan,” Zaccagnino replied. “ I want something concrete so we can give it a thumbs up or down.”

He asked commissioners to think about his proposal and let him know if they want to proceed.

Kids, shoppers will love Bayfest

file photo
The Kidfest area at Bayfest includes games at
a nominal cost and other fun for the kids while
their parents enjoy the music, shopping and the auto show.

ANNA MARIA – Bayfest offers something for everyone on Friday, Oct. 19, from 5 to 10 p.m. and especially on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can dance, sample local food, wet your whistle and enjoy the classic wheels on the street and more.

Kids will need a few bucks for the rides at Kidfest, in the large parking lot across from Roser Memorial Community Church.

“It will be similar to last year’s,” said Kip LaLosh, owner of AMI Fitness, which sponsors Kidfest. “We’ll have some bounce houses, the bungee jump and rock climbing plus miscellaneous things like that.”

LaLosh said they would be selling tickets to the rides at Kidfest.

So once they get the husbands and kids happy, the moms can grab the credit card and get an early start on holiday shopping.

There will be arts and crafts booths at Bayfest including wooden stools, glass shells, jewelry, pendants, fishing supplies, scarves, hats purses, wallets, candles, wood signs, books, barbecue sauce, custom towels, potholders, wall sculptures, coffee beans and more. In addition, the merchants of Pine Avenue will open their doors and some will have merchandise displayed on their porches or near the sidewalk. You need to shop all the stores to get the full range of items, many one-of-a-kind, which would be perfect for gift giving.

The not-for-profits will have booths as well. Learn more about Florida Blood Services, AMI Turtle Watch, AMI Community Emergency Response Team and others. And don’t forget the food, but we’ll talk about that in next week’s Sun.

So if you’re looking for a complete experience for the whole family, and if you’re ready for the season’s first festival, mark your calendar and come on down. Bayfest is sponsored by The Anna Maria Island Sun, Miller Electric, RE/MAX Alliance Group. LaPensee Plumbing and Pools, Bright House Networks, Hancock Bank, Anna Maria Island, Budweiser, The Bradenton Herald, the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

‘Postmortem’ gives homage to Holmes

Tom vaught | sun
Clockwise from left, John Durkin as Bobby Carlyle,
Anne Bean as May Dison, Heiko Knipfelberg as
Leo Barrett, Diana Shoemaker as Louise Parradine,
Mark Shoemaker as William Gillette and Robin Rhodes as
Lilly Warner in the seance scene from "Postmortem."


ANNA MARIA – The doors of the Island Players warn audience members that the cast will be using firearms that make a big bang during the play.

“Postmortem,” by Ken Ludwig and directed by Garreth Gibbs, is a suspenseful mystery that also has laughs and a little romance – a departure from the comedies usually on the billboard. If the slower pace bothered the audience, nobody was protesting. And the occasional gunshot ensured all eyes were on the action.

This cleverly written play occurs in the 1920s at the Gillette Castle in southern Connecticut, home of William Gillette, an actor-manager, playwright and heartthrob, best known for his 30-year portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Gillette arranges a séance to find out who is trying to murder him.

Mark Shoemaker shines in the role, at times puffing on his Calabash pipe and wearing his deerstalker hat like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. Gillette is the main character of the play and Shoemaker adds to the role.

The play starts with a the cast of Gillette’s latest revival of “”Sherlock Holmes” arriving for a party at the castle. The first to arrive are Bobby Carlyle, played by John Durkin, and May Dison, played by Anne Bean.

Durkin, a veteran of the Island Players, does a great job of playing the dilettante gadfly who takes nothing seriously and tries to find irony or humor in everything that happens. His outlook makes him unpopular with some of the cast, especially the women.

Bean is great as Dison, the blonde beauty who has her reason for being there and it pertains to her sister, Maude, who died a year earlier. Gillette had tried to win the sister’s heart before her death and he still misses her, but he’s also concerned that someone wants to kill him.

Sylvia Marnie, former owner of Pelican Pete’s and a native of England, brings her British accent and a lot of talent to the role of Marion Barrett. Keiko Knipfelberg plays Marion’s husband, with gusto and Robin Rhodes, a regular at the Island Players, is warm and matronly playing Lily Warner, Gillette’s sister.

Last, but not least, Diana Shoemaker gives a spirited portrayal as Maude’s best friend, Louise Parradine, who performs the séance during the first act.

The stage crew deserves credit for a great setting and the lighting was excellent. During the beginning of acts and scenes, the action would start in the dark and then the lights would come up to open the scene to the audience. It was very well done.

The play itself often aped Sherlock Holmes books, movies and plays, even down to the séance scene where Maude’s picture glows in the background and fades after a woman screams. Having everyone gathered together in a séance in a castle has been done many times by the master of detectives.

Come on out and see how well the Island Players treat this sometimes schizophrenic plot. You have some romance, some comedy and a murder mystery all in one evening, but don’t forget the warning on the doors about shots being fired.

It’s loud, but a perfect way to keep the audience involved.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper