The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 26 - April 10, 2013


Doggie do’s and don’ts set for Scentral Park
Carol Whitmore

Two dogs who have the park all to themselves
go for a good romp Monday afternoon.

HOLMES BEACH – Beautification board members agreed on a set of rules for the dog park presented by Bob Longworth at last week’s meeting.

Before presenting the rules, Longworth, the board’s liaison to the dog park, praised Barbara Parkman, the park’s de facto caretaker.

“Barbara is doing a marvelous job,” Longworth said. “The dog park is going to be a thing of beauty. The fountain is being done. We have labor donated by Connie’s Landscaping.

“Barbara has done a wonderful job in putting pavers around the water fountain spigots for the dogs. She is doing a wonderful job of maintaining the plants and bushes there.”

He said the next priority is laying pavers from the gates to the pavilion and that the small dog park could be put off until the pavers are installed.

“Thanks to the mayor for restoring the poop bags and also that park is getting a phenomenal amount of usage,” he continued.

Chair Melissa Synder said people want the small dog park now, and Longworth said Parkman raised $725 through a yard sale and donations to help pay for park enhancements.

“We already have the fence,” Marilyn Shirley stressed and Snyder added. “The mayor says we have it, but it doesn’t get done.”

Longworth presented a list of suggested park rules provided by Manatee County Animal Control with a few changes. He said some would be posted at the gate and the remainder inside the pavilion.

Joan Haiss suggested reorganizing the rules so they are easier to read, and Longworth said he would refine them and bring them to the next meeting for approval.

In other business:

• Members agreed to celebrate National Arbor Day by planting a Southern red cedar along the canal at 77th Street and Marina Drive on Friday, April 26, at 9:30 a.m.
• Voted to plant 10 silver buttonwoods along Marina Drive at 63rd Street.
• Set their next and final meeting of the season for Wednesday, May 1, at 5 p.m.


The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Board approved the following dog park rules:
• Aggressive dogs not allowed;
• Dogs must wear a current license tag and have a current rabies vaccination;
• Dogs must be leased when entering and exiting the park;
• All dogs within the fence must be off leash;
• Choke collars are prohibited;
• Dog owners must be present with leash and in view of their dogs at all times;
• Dogs must be under voice control at all times;
• Dog feces must be picked up and disposed of by the owner;
• Owners must immediately fill in any holes dug by their dogs;
• People food is prohibited inside the park;
•Alcoholic beverage consumption is prohibited inside the park;
• The small dog area is for small, fragile or elderly canine visitors;
• Children may accompany the family pet if they are under the direct supervision of an adult;
• In all cases, owners are responsible for the action of their dogs;
• Canine and human visitors enter at their own risk; the city of Holmes Beach cannot be responsible for injuries to visiting dogs, their owners or others using the park;
• Dogs in heat are not allowed in the park..

Rotten Ralph’s lease cancelled
Carol Whitmore

Rotten Ralph’s, which saw hard times after last year’s
Tropical Storm Debby damaged the Bridge Street Pier
and floating dock, never caught up on rental payments.
Repairs are still not completed.


BRADENTON BEACH – By a vote of 4-1, the city commission terminated its concession agreement with Rotten Ralph’s restaurant on the city pier for failure to pay back rent in excess of $50,000.

Owner Dave Russell said he began to fall behind last July after the pier closed due to damage from then-Tropical Storm Debby, later a hurricane. Damage to the floating dock next to the pier, also caused Ralph’s to lose customers, he told commissioners on Thursday night.

“Boats pull up and can’t tie up, and we lose a lot of parties that way,” he said.

Russell never notified the city of the troubles as required by the concession agreement, City Attorney Ricinda Perry said, instructing commissioners not to consider the information when deciding whether to terminate the lease.

Repairs are scheduled for the floating dock beginning April 15; repairs of the main pier are expected to be completed by August.

Russell told commissioners that he could have made partial payments, but the city prohibits making partial payments on past due amounts. Florida law prohibits the city from extending credit, according to Perry.

Russell had previously requested that the commission consider taking his restaurant equipment, which he valued at about $200,000, in payment for the debt, with an option for him to buy it back. Last month, commissioners gave him two weeks to clear up prior liens on the equipment. He told commissioners on Thursday that he had paid off three liens and had a commitment from the lienholder on a fourth one to allow the city to take precedence.

Perry told commissioners that Russell offered nothing in writing and asked him when he would pay the debt.

Russell suggested that if the city would allow the restaurant to remain open and take the equipment in payment, it would benefit the city, and if for some reason he could not buy it back, the city would own the equipment and have a turnkey restaurant operation, he said.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said a new tenant might not want the equipment, and suggested that Russell seek a loan.

“The city is not a bank,” Mayor John Shaughnessy said. “My first duty is to the city, and I can’t in good conscience put the city’s resources at risk.”

Commissioner Gay Breuler moved to issue a notice of nonpayment and terminate the concession agreement. Commissioner Ric Gatehouse was the sole opposing vote.

Lake LaVista dredging project under way
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Sand from the project is being stored on the bayside beach
by the city pier, which allows cloudy water from the
dredging to settle out before being returned to the bay.


Work has begun in the Lake LaVista dredging project and should continue for another week or two. Sand from the dredging will be placed around the entrance to the Anna Maria City Pier and along the bayside beach.

The sand is being formed into retention ponds on either side of the pier ramp, visible in the photo at right. The purpose is to let the wet sand dry out before it is distributed along the beach, according to Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay.

"After the water percolates out, we will introduce it (the sand) to the outer fringes of the beach by the pier," McKay said.

Dry sand doesn't cloud the waters as much as wet sand when it is placed along the beach, McKay said.

Lake LaVista gets dredged every year to year-and-a-half, according to McKay.

The project began April 1 and they lost two days of work because of the weather, McKay said. C&N Dredging is the contractor for the project.


New Center director settles in
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Pat Copeland | Sun
Dawn Stiles was greeted with welcoming bouquets
of flowers as she moved in to her office last week.

ANNA MARIA – New Island Community Center Director Dawn Stiles said her first mistake after moving to the Island last week was going Publix on Saturday afternoon, however, negotiating the large crowd of grocery shopping tourists didn’t dampen her spirit.

“It’s great here,” she said, “I love it more every day. People are so friendly everywhere you go.”

Stiles said her first week at the Center has been spent introducing herself to staff members.

“I’m getting to know them,” she said, “and their biggest strengths are how they all talk about one another, the strength of the team and their sense of community.

“They all do everything; talk about multi-tasking. It’s phenomenal. It made me realize that I made the right decision.”

Stile said one of her first priorities is “to stabilize the financing so we are not so dependent on one big event.

“There are two sides – expenses or the cost of running the organization, and the various sources of revenue,” she continued. “I’m a firm believer that it is easier to grow revenue than cut expenses because if you cut so much that you have no capacity, you die.”

Her second priority is to hear from the community.

“What do they want to see?” she asked. “What programs and service do they want? How can we deliver high quality programing to enrich their lives?

“I want to get out into the community and meet with community leaders, city officials, civic and service organizations and residents. But I need to get grounded here first because I can’t go out and talk about things I don’t know.”

Future ideas include a conducting a community needs assessment, having open houses at the Center and learning what other non-profit organizations are doing. In addition, Stiles invites people to stop by the Center and meet her.

Center to collaborate with school system

ANNA MARIA – A $25,000 donation will enable the Community Center’s Family Foundations counseling program to collaborate with the Manatee County School system.

Assistant Director Scot Dell made the announcement a recent board meeting and said, “The need is great. We’re excited about the possibility of collaborating with the county school system to go into the schools to do group therapy and counseling sessions on a variety of topics.

“It puts the Community Center out there into the county at a different level. The counseling program has always made the Center unique. We’re the only program around that offers therapy and counseling on a sliding scale.”

He said the donation would enable the Center to increase one therapist to full time. Session topics would include bullying, cutting, divorce, self esteem, peer pressure and teen/preteen relations.

Dell said March fund-raisers were successful with the the 36-hour Giving Challenge bringing in $16,425; the Tour of Homes, $34,494; and the first Sham Rockin’ the Island, $12,704.

“It was a great event and well organized,” board member Cindy Thompson said of the Sham Rockin’ event.

Island Affaire coming

Dell said the final big fundraiser is An Island Affaire, set for Saturday, May 18, a month later than usual. He said the Center is seeking sponsorships for the event, which include Diamond, $10,000; Gold, $5,000; Silver, $2,500; VIP Table, $2,000; Bronze, $1,000; and Underwriters, $250 to $999.

Dell said the Center has several events planned in partnership with Manatee County. They include a Florida Parks and Recreation Olympics in the fall, a Run for Your Life 5K race at Bayfront Park in October and a Conquer the Island Obstacle Course along the beach from the Sandbar restaurant to Coquina Beach in December.

Board Member David Teitelbaum cautioned him to be aware of turtle season and the upcoming beach renourishment project when finalizing plans.

In the absence of Treasurer Stewart Moon, Jr., Dell made a treasurer’s report. He said expenses are down $10,000, and revenue is down $70,000 lower than budgeted and down $35,000 from last year. He said part of the decrease is due to the fact that the Affaire is being held a month later than usual.

Finally, President Scott Rudacille appointed Monica Simpson, Erin Heckler and Blair Schlossberg to a committee to revise the bylaws. Executive Director Dawn Stiles said she also would be a part of the committee.

Commission settles on lot, bulk and yard numbers

ANNA MARIA – The city commission decided last Thursday to accept a living area ratio (LAR) that would allow smaller house-to-yard ratios for larger lots.

In an attempt to keep the newer homes on the same smaller scale as existing homes, the commission settled on a LAR of 40 percent for lots up to 15,000 square feet plus 35 percent for lots between 15,001 and 21,000 square feet plus 30 percent for lots over 21,000. In addition, a second living area could not exceed 33 percent and the maximum impervious surface on a lot, including the buildings, would be 50 percent.

“I think it’s very well done,” said Commissioner Gene Aubry.

City Attorney Jim Dye said in a memo that the ordinance would be legal but was unsure if it could stand the test of a Bert Harris Act lawsuit for taking away measureable value of a landowner’s property.

“There is an opportunity that a Bert Harris claim could be made,” Dye said. “Whether or not they would win is of question.”

“If someone files a claim and calculates a loss and wins, would they have to do what they wanted to do or would they have to reimburse the city if they didn’t,” Commissioner Dale Woodland asked.

Dye said they still would not be able to do what they want, they could take the money, sell the property and run. He said the owner would instead build by the new ordinance and the money would be compensation for what he or she could not build.

Attorney Scott Rudacille said he has one complaint.

“The only comment I have on this ordinance is the city should relook the 33 percent on the second floor,” he said. “This means an owner would not be able to put on second level what he wants. The commission should make this the second level above base flood. That would encourage them to keep the ground level structures.”

John Cagnina, whose family owns some vacant properties in the city where his father was mayor at one time, was unhappy with the ordinance.

“It sounds like we’re being forced to develop it but we never had opportunity to submit site plans. We have the ability to build on the property or not but we are being forced to build under the new rules.”

Dye was asked to include an administrative process for homes in the design phase before the moratorium. They voted unanimously to go forward with the ordinance. It now goes before the planning and zoning board and comes back to the city commission after that for their approval. Dye said if things go smoothly, they could have the new law in effect by the end of May.

Board seeks remodeling incentives

ANNA MARIA – Some call it old Florida when they talk about the homes and towns that settlers built in our state, and the residents of this Island city are looking to keep that ambiance instead of losing it to new construction.

At a meeting last week, the planning and zoning board (P&Z) decided on three ways to make remodeling a single-story house more appealing than knocking it down and building a new structure.

Those ways are,

• Reduce the requirement for elevating the house from 13 feet to nine feet so homeowners could still have a single-story home with a crawl space available;
• Use appraisal methods to get the highest value on a home so the homeowner would have more money to work with under the 50 percent rule, which limits the value of remodeling to 50 percent of a home’s value to continue to keep it at ground level;
• Study the comprehensive plan to find ways of softening the rules to make more incentives for those considering remodeling.

The work session was called by P&Z member Micheal Coleman, who wanted to establish the broad context of what they want to accomplish.

“We have an historic scale in this town of lower elevation, one-story buildings, and we have a concern that it could be lost to bigger houses,” he said. “Previously, my response was don’t worry about it because how many empty lots are there, and then I realized we have a lot of possibilities if you tear down homes.”

Building Official Bob Welch said there were additional benefits to encouraging remodeling.

“The solutions would stave off some of those expenditures for insurance when FEMA stops incentives in 2015,” Welch said. “The staff will use different accounting to determine the value of the house for 50-percent.”

P&Z member Bob Pearman asked Welch how they appraise the houses for the 50-percent rule and Welch said the city uses an appraisal based on fair market value. The value excludes the land itself. The city would go to replacement cost, he said.

Welch recommended making nine feet the minimum elevated height instead of 13 feet to make it easier to keep the same house. He said a lot of people get in trouble with the 50 percent rule by being extravagant. If you do it right, you could have a modern house with old time flair, he said.

The board voted unanimously to work toward those goals.

Deadline nears for Wedding Festival

Island Photography | Submitted
The signature photo for the upcoming wedding festival.

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Vice President Deb Wing is hoping to get response from past and potential vendors soon as she prepares for the Sixth Annual Wedding Festival on Sunday, May 5.

The deadline for vendors is Friday, April 12, extended two days from its original date, and Wing says it is important to sign up by then to assure inclusion in the glossy attendee brochure.

Vendors are advised to attend a vendor meeting, and there are four scheduled. These meetings are also good for people considering signing up as a vendor. The meetings are held in the Chamber office, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach every Monday in April at 5:30 p.m. Call the Chamber at 941-778-1541 to RSVP.

For those vendors who have not turned in a gift item for the prize giveaway baskets, they need to be turned in by April 12. Vendors are required to donate a prize for the giveaway to attract brides and their families to the festival.

Speaking of brides, if you want to attend you should contact Wing as soon as possible at 941-778-1541 or log onto to register. Wing said she has heard from some brides who are already getting airline tickets and rooms so they can attend, but they need to let the Chamber know so they can have a rough count of attendees. You can sign up anytime before the event. It costs $7 to enter if confirmed before the festival or $10 the day of the event.

The strolling festival begins at 11 a.m. with registration at the Chamber offices beginning at 10 a.m. Attendees receive a booklet that shows all of the host sites and the wedding vendors that are at each location.

This year there will be no fashion show or large tent set up in the Chamber parking lot. People will sign up in the parking lot and then move on to a trolley or limousine to visit the host sites where wedding service vendors will be located.

The host sites are Body and Sol Spa and Wellness, The Studio at Gulf and Pine, Harrington House, Beachfront Bed and Breakfast, Gulf Drive Café and Tiki and Tortuga Inn Beach Resort.

Host site visitation ends at 5 p.m. and the Grand Finale and beach party begins at 6 p.m., which all of the vendors are invited to attend.

The Grand Finale at the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort includes a mock wedding and thousands of dollars in prize giveaways for any ticket holders who visited all five locations and are present at the party.

The party also will feature drinks, food a sunset mock wedding and more. Prizes are being provided by the vendors and host sites.

This year there will also be free roundtrip transportation on a Charter Bus sponsored by Anna Maria Island Resorts that will depart from a St. Petersburg Beach Walmart located at 3501 34th St. South.

Transportation is available for the first 55 people who pre-register and request transportation to this event. Those on the bus will be entered in a drawing to win a two-night stay at an Anna Maria Island Resorts hotel.

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