The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 14 - January 29, 2014


Fifty Years of Waves
Carol Whitmore

Ronee and Jim Brady, pictured in the “boardroom” of the
West Coast Surf Shop, are celebrating 50 years in business. 



HOLMES BEACH – There’s plenty to do at the West Coast Surf Shop a few days before its 50th anniversary, but founder Jim Brady is watching the Mavericks Invitational 2014 off the San Francisco coast online while his wife, Ronee Brady, mans the counter.

“Big waves,” the characteristically concise local boy says.

That translates to 50 feet – think five-story building. The surfers are deploying vests filled with air to bring them to the surface after being held under the crushing waves for several minutes, catching rides on Jet Skis back out to the lineup after each wave and recording it all with Go-Pro cameras mounted on helmets and boards.

Surfing has changed a lot since 1964, when Brady opened the shop at its original location near the present site of the Island Chamber of Commerce, the year after Ron Jon’s – officially the oldest surf shop in Florida – opened its Cocoa Beach store.

He’s not quite sure of the exact opening date – he was only 16 – but “All Summer Long” had just been released by the Beach Boys, and at the Manatee Public Beach, teenagers were dancing to surf music on the rooftop pavilion.

Brady, however, could be found out in the water, surfing on a rescue board, courtesy of lifeguards Dave Miller and Phil Sims.

His grandmother, Aida Brady, and his aunt, Carol Stevens, minded the store while he was out or if they weren’t available, he’d hang a sign on the door saying, “Gone surfing.” Sometimes, guys would track him down while he was in the water, asking him to sell them some wax.

In 1979, he moved the shop to its present location just south of Manatee Public Beach, across the street from the former Duffy’s Tavern.

Like Duffy’s, the surf shop is an Island icon, according to Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who worked there when she was a teenager and lived above the shop with her daughter, Janae. The Bradys were in her wedding and clothed the bridal party from the surf shop, she said.


Since those days, surfboard sizes and shapes have multiplied and new materials like carbon and new types of fiberglass have made boards lighter; even 12-foot paddleboards are easily carried, he said, predicting that paddleboard surfing (in waves) will be picking up in coming years, now that recreational paddleboarding and flatwater racing are commonplace.

The Bradys’ grandson, Giorgio Gomez, 18, is 21st in the world in men’s paddleboard surfing. Their granddaughter, Izzi Gomez, 14, is 3rd in the world in women’s paddleboard surfing.

“It’s good to see our grandkids liking the sport and excelling in it; that makes it worthwhile,” Brady said.

Their mom, Brandi Brady, runs a month-long surf camp each year on the beach behind the shop, beginning the week after July Fourth.

The grandkids and their mom live on the east coast now, and Anna Maria Island is getting pretty well known among east coast surfers, judging by those who come in the shop.

Brady said he doesn’t surf as much now.

“You’ve got to surf or work,” he said. “I leave the surfing up to my grandkids.”

Originally stocking boards, wax and T-shirts, the shop also carries swimsuits, flipflops, sunglasses and jewelry, long and short skateboards, skimboards, bodyboards, racks, and their newest item, surfboard covers that double as hammocks, useful on surfing safaris.


The Bradys put the store up for sale three years ago; when it sells, the couple plans to travel more and watch the grandkids compete in places like Hawaii and Dubai, and maybe keep working there part time.

Finding the right buyer takes patience, like waiting for the right wave.

“We’re in no rush,” Brady said.


Anna Maria approves cell tower lease

ANNA MARIA – The city commission worked out the details and passed an ordinance making the lease of city owned land for a cell phone tower a reality.

The ordinance sets the stage for Florida Tower Partners, LLC to build a tower in the parking lot of Anna Maria City Hall that includes an elevated tier of equipment for the cell phone providers with room for parking beneath.

After learning at a previous meeting that the tower could be as high as 162 feet, depending on the number of providers that sign up, they put 162 feet as the maximum height of the structure. There is also language that requires the cell tower owner to tear down the tower if it becomes unnecessary.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said he wants to make sure the tower matches the Island ambience, City Attorney Jim Dye said he thinks that would be best handled when Florida Tower Partners submits a site plan.

Commissioner Dale Woodland moved to accept the ordinance, and CommissionerDoug Copeland seconded the motion. The commissioners voted unanimously for the motion.

There was some trepidation when the commission saw how much the aborted plan for the six lots at Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard would cost. The project, which included trees, a well for watering the landscape, electrical outlets for festivals, public bathrooms and parking spaces, was to be financed by Pine Avenue Restoration (PAR) and Rex Hagen, a resident who offered to fund the restrooms and parking lot.

Both of those money sources dried up because the commissioners did not want the rest rooms or parking spaces.

The commissioners were asked to transfer $56,000 from city budget reserves to pay for 19 live oak trees from Turner Tree Service, $26,425; a utility hookup to Manatee county Utilities, $4,285; labor and materials for the tree installation, $2,985.35; irrigation for the six lots to M&F Lawn Care Service, $1,262; the well pump to Young Well Drilling, $9,379; estimated lighting cost, according ot Public Works Director George McKay, $10,000; and unanticipated miscellaneous expenses, $1,663.65.

The city will reimburse Rex Hagen $50,000 for improvements and $5,000 for the bathrooms.

Copeland asked about the lighting expenses and Mayor SueLynn said it was to keep the electrical improvements because they were unsafe where they were. She said when someone holds a festival in the six lots, like Bayfest, they will make use of the electrical service. Webb, who helped the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce set up for Bayfests, agreed with the mayor.

Woodland asked if they were taking money from reserves to pay for improvements to the lots, SueLynn said she would come to the commission for permission if and when that happens.

Finally, Building Official Bob Welch said the city is embarking on a difficult assignment, to write a flood prevention ordinance that is acceptable to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He said they are under a time limit and he wants to be done with it by the second meeting in February. He said he also spotted a snag.

“FEMA requires each state to have an office of floodplain management,” he said. “The Florida Building Code is pretty minimal and the city cannot make its law more stringent.”

Progress made on pier renovations
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

joe hendricks | sun

Repairs to the east end of the Bradenton Beach City Pier will bring back to life a centerpiece for the city.

BRADENTON BEACH – January was a productive month in regard to pending renovations to the city pier.

During the Thursday, Jan. 16, city commission meeting, commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with Manatee County pertaining to the board of county commissioner’s pledge to match dollar for dollar up to $1 million of the city’s expenditures on the pier project.

At the same meeting, commissioners approved the expenditure, not to exceed $10,000, for ZNS Engineering to prepare a request for proposals that establishes the project scope and criteria for the construction firms that will bid on the project.

Commissioners supported the Pier Team recommendation that the pier’s new composite decking would be gray and the shingles atop the gazebos and pavilion would be white. The roof of the restaurant building will not be re-shingled.

Commissioners also approved an amended lease with Cast and Cage restaurant proprietor Roland Pena.

A memo prepared by Building Official Steve Gilbert details some of the specifics associated with the pier renovations. For the area east of the restaurant and encompassing the fishing pier, the task list includes the removal and reconstruction of three gazebos, the pavilion and the superstructure of the existing pier deck, as well as the removal and replacement of all decking, framing and concrete pilings.

Wooden swings and picnic tables will be built for the new pavilion that sits at the end of the pier, and new composite benches will be installed along the length of the pier.

The area west of the restaurant will be retrofitted with composite decking, and existing guardrails will be replaced with new rails made of pressure treated wood.

In an effort to be judicious with taxpayer dollars, the city will purchase fish cleaning stations and solar lighting fixtures, and the public works department will install them.

“Why should we pay the contractor for something we can do ourselves,” said Police Chief Sam Speciale, during the Wednesday, Jan. 15, Pier Team meeting.

The meeting began with Pena introducing Cast and Cage executive chef Tony Savage, a Michigan native with 31 years of restaurant experience.

The Siesta Key resident said he hopes to relocate to the Island soon. Summing up his thoughts on the new endeavor, Savage said, “We’re going to blow it right out of the water and have some fun.”

He and Pena received tentative Pier Team approval to use Little Sexy, a cast iron outdoor smoker, with the stipulations that an illustrated plan would be submitted to the city; food cooked in the smoker would only be sold inside the restaurant and the concession stand; and the portable configuration would be inspected by the fire marshal.

Public Works Director Tom Woodard said repairs to the restaurant’s hood ventilation system would be completed at the city’s expense because the city owns the leased building.

Pena said he and his business partners hope to open the restaurant by Saturday, Feb. 1, and no later than Saturday, Feb. 8.

Get hooked on Cortez fishing festival

File photo

“Wishin’ I was Fishin’ ” is the 2014 Cortez Commercial
Fishing Festival slogan. Seafood was king at last year’s
Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

CORTEZ – Marinate in some authentic old Florida at the 32nd Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival the weekend of Feb.15-16 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

But no matter how many steaming hot dishes of delectable seafood you see, don’t call it a seafood festival. It’s all about the fishermen who have been bringing home the catch for more than 120 years to Cortez, one of the last working fishing villages in the state.

The festival will feature live music, nautical arts and crafts, marine life talks and exhibits, videos on commercial fishing, children’s activities and, of course, seafood, with choices for landlubbers.

This year’s slogan – “Wishin’ I was Fishin’ ” – will appear on souvenir T-shirts with artwork created by Shannon Perkins, a recent graduate of State College of Florida. The slogan was proposed by and is a tribute to Carol E. "C.P." Pantas, a Cortez resident who passed away last year.

Admission is $3 with children under 12 free. Festival proceeds are used by the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) to expand and restore the 95-acre FISH Preserve east of the village on Sarasota Bay.

The festival gate is at the Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W. in Cortez, at the corner of Cortez Road and 119th Street West. Park east of the village in the FISH Preserve or look for Cortez residents allowing people to park in their yards for a fee.

Or avoid the traffic and take a shuttle bus for $2.50 round trip from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach or from G. T. Bray Park, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W. in Bradenton.

For more information, visit

Super Bowl XLVIII happenings

For casual and diehard football fans alike, Super Bowl Sunday is a day to party with friends, family, and in some cases, enthusiastic strangers. When the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks square off Sunday evening, some local establishments will close for the sports holiday (Hurricane Hank’s and Blue Marlin); some will conduct business as usual (D Coy Ducks, Duffy’s Tavern and Skinny’s); and some will go all out, including those listed below.

Barefoot Tiki Bar - 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-4402

Drink specials: $2 drafts.

Food: Barefoot style buffet, bring a dish; Nicole supplies the pizza.

Entertainment: James Blaine 1 to 2 p.m.; Mumbo Jumbo 2 to 6 p.m.

Prizes: quarterly giveaways.

Bridge Tender Inn - 135 Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, 941-778-4849

Drink Specials: Happy hour all day, $2.50 Bud and Bud Light bottles

Food: Full menu and free halftime buffet.

Entertainment: Swamp Donkie, 2 to 5 p.m.

Prizes: Raffle – giving away one trip to Mexico and five trips to Las Vegas. Winners announced at halftime. Proceeds go to Cat Depot, Sarasota.

Clancy’s - 6218 Cortez Road. W., Bradenton, 941-794-2489

Drink Specials: $10 domestic buckets (6), free Jello shots pregame and halftime.

Food: Pig roast and full menu.

Entertainment Jack Tamburine Band, 1 to 5 p.m.

Prizes: Square game giveaways.

Gulf Drive Café - 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, 941-778-1919

Food and drink special: $69.95 buffet, all you can eat through halftime; all you can drink domestic drafts, house wine and well liquor all game long. Full menu also offered.

Entertainment: Natural Vibes, 1 to 5 p.m.

Reservations required for buffet, recommended for regular dining.

Island Time Bar & Grill – 111 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, 941-782-1122

Drink Specials: $4 Smirnoff Bloody Mary’s; $5 Ketel One and Crown Royal; $12 buckets (5) of Bud and Bud Light.

Food: 65-cent wings and full menu.

Entertainment: Doug Bidwell & Larry Stokes, 2 to 5 p.m.

Prizes: Budweiser giveaways.

Lobstahs - 5337 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-779-1000

“Come watch the Super Bowl with us.” Call or drop by for additional details.

Slim’s Place - 9701 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 941-567-4056

Drink specials: $4 rum runners; $4 homemade Sangria & $9.50 domestic pitchers

Swordfish Grill - 4628 119th Street W., Cortez, 941-798-2035

Drink specials: $5 Blue Huckleberry Lemonade, $5 Orange Crush, $1 Jello shots and Sunday happy hour.

Food: Mile-High Bronco Burger, Seattle Sushi Platter, full menu and other specials.

Entertainment: Reid Frost 12 to 3 p.m. and The Wheedles, 5 to 8 p.m.

Flood concerns lead to height allowance request

BRADENTON BEACH – If approved, a variance request for an increased building height allowance in the Sandpiper Resort could alter the landscape of the manufactured and mobile home community.

Sandpiper resident Doug LeFevre is seeking the city’s permission to replace an existing mobile home with a single-story manufactured home measuring 14 feet in height, to be placed on 11-foot pilings, resulting in a 25-foot structure with parking underneath.

LeFevre stated his case to William Robinson Jr., the Bradenton real estate attorney who serves as the city’s special master, during a hearing that took place at city hall on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Robinson said he would render his decision within 15 days and explained that should anyone wish to appeal his decision, that would have to do so through the circuit court.

Located near the city’s northern boundary, the properties inside the Sandpiper Resort Co-op are designated M-1 (Mobile Home District) by the city’s land development code (LDC). This designation allows for a maximum building height of 15 feet.

LeFevre’s request for 10 additional feet is based on a desire to protect his investment at a time when flood insurance premiums are rising and compliance with flood regulations is becoming more challenging.

“I’m not expecting it to flood, but if it does, I won’t have to worry about rebuilding the house or flood mitigation,” he said.

LeFevre’s request pertains to a single property, but if approved, others are expected to follow his lead.

Sandpiper Co-op board president Marie Petersen spoke in favor of the request and said the co-op board voted in favor of it.

Sandpiper resident Judy Price pointed out that the Sandpiper board support came in the form of a 3-2 vote. She questioned whether the request should have first been voted on by the resort’s 120 owner-stakeholders.

Price also wondered about the precedent that would be set if the height allowance is granted. “Are we opening this up to everyone in the park?” she asked.

Sandpiper resident Ted Baird said, “Doug is just the first of the group that’s going to be building new homes in the park. There are those in the park who appreciate his pioneering efforts to break this height limit of 15 feet and get us up to 25 feet, where we will need to be when the new FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) regulations take effect.”

Building Official Steve Gilbert confirmed that a coastal surge study being conducted by FEMA is expected to result in increased base flood elevation requirements within the next two years.

Sandpiper resident Charlie Miller recently raised his home to the maximum height allowed by the city. “If I could have raised it 18 inches higher, I could have got a lower insurance rate, because I would have been above the flood plain,” he said.

Some of the older units in the resort sit on bases that are 10 to 12 inches above ground, while others sit on bases that are three or four feet tall.

Peg Miller lives across the street from the resort. She expressed concerns about elevated homes posing greater risks during storms. Her home was struck by a portion of a roof torn from a Sandpiper home during Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Gilbert said state regulations now require manufactured homes and barrier island homes to be built to higher standards. He shared his belief that additional height allowances would not create greater risk.

John Burns, a member of the city’s planning and zoning board, questioned whether LeFevre’s request met the many factors required for variance approval, particularly the height limits specified in the LDC.

Planning Official Alan Garrett said the LDC offers two potential interpretations of the height limits: one based on the entirety of LDC Chapter 34, and one based on the multiple zoning districts contained within that particular chapter of city code.

Garrett explained that the district zoning designation stipulates a 15 foot height limit, but the maximum building height allowed in the entirety of Chapter 34 allows for 29 feet above the base flood elevation.

The property in question has a base flood elevation of nine feet, which equates to a maximum allowable building height of 38 feet. Garrett pointed out that LeFevre is only asking for 25 feet.

Garrett and Gilbert agreed that this interpretation of the LDC applies to LeFevre’s request and satisfies the factors required for a variance.

The staff analysis prepared prior to the hearing states: “Staff does not object to request to elevate the dwelling to meet the base flood elevation, thereby increasing public safety in the event of a storm or hurricane.”

Island realty sales reach benchmark

Alan Galletto’s prediction came true. The agent for Island Real Estate, who publishes a newsletter that keeps track of sales, reports sales of properties reached 427, just under last year’s total of 431 and more than 400 units for only the fourth year;

“Sales in 2013 were strong among all property types and showed average and median sales prices significantly up from 2012,” Galletto wrote in his newsletter.

The sales figures for December 2013 were 34 units total, down slightly from 38 for December 2012. Sales by type in 2013 were 13 single-family homes, 10 condominiums, six duplexes and five lots. For December 2012, they were 27 single-family, nine condos, one duplex and one lot.

The final figures for 2013 were 237 single-family, 138 condos, 27 duplexes and 25 lots, down one percent from 2012 when they sold 245 single-family, 127 condos, 27 duplexes and 33 lots.

Galletto said all indications were positive for continued real estate growth.

“Of the 2013 sales only 9 percent or 39 units, were distressed properties (bank owned or short sales) compared to 13 percent, or 56 units, in 2012,” he wrote. “Inventory on the Island continues to remain low at 311. The inventory last month was 321, and for the last six months, the inventory has ranged between 263 and 321.”

Galletto said Canadian currency exchange rates have brought Canadians, many of them baby boomers, to Florida to purchase real estate.

“We have been seeing more Canadians come into the Island market in the last year than any time since most Canadians who owned property here sold out in the 1990s when the U.S. dollar was very strong against the Canadian dollar,” he said.

Galletto said there were only five distressed properties on the market as 2014 arrived. He noted the number of single-family sales remains relatively high. He also said sales of properties over the $1 million level have raised from 2-3 percent to 6-7 percent. He summed up the situation with a positive endorsement.

“The bottom line is that the current market is as good as the Island market has ever been,” he said.

November visits up

November 2013 tourism was up 4.1 percent over November 2012, with 43,300 visitors to Manatee County, according to Research Data Services, the county’s Tampa-based tourism consultant.

Direct expenditures were up by 8.3 percent over the previous November, totaling $23,798,100 for the month.

Occupancy was 59.2 percent in November 2013, up 1.2 percent from 58.5 the previous year, and room rates averaged $126 a night, up 3.1 percent from $122 a night the previous year.

Florida visitors led the rush to the county, accounting for 26.3 percent of visitors, followed by Europeans, 22.7 percent; Midwesterners, 17.9 percent; and Northeasterners,16.1 percent.

Eateries to see growth

Restaurants in Florida are expected to enjoy 4.5 percent growth this year, reaching sales of nearly $34.7 million, according to the National Restaurant Association, which ranks the industry as the nation’s second largest private employer, accounting for 10 percent of its total workforce.

The hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, is Florida’s largest employer, representing 23 percent of the state’s economy, according to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

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