Digital trail leads to undelivered day dock

Bradenton Beach day dock located
Last week, CRA chair Ralph Cole photographed the floating dock decking in storage at the Hecker Construction Company in Gibsonton. Metadata information contained in this digital photograph helped Police Chief Sam Speciale locate the undelivered day dock decking. - Ralph Cole | Submitted

BRADENTON BEACH – City officials have found the undelivered floating day dock and are now cautiously optimistic the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) dock project will be completed.

Police Chief Sam Speciale and CRA chair Ralph Cole found the aluminum-framed dock decking in Gibsonton on Thursday, Nov. 8. This happened one day after the CRA members directed Speciale to use his investigative resources to try to find the undelivered dock sections.

Eight 30-foot aluminum-framed sections of composite dock decking were manufactured in Spain and delivered to Port Everglades in mid-August. On Sept. 25, Technomarine CEO Erik Sanderson sent Speciale an email that said the docks were delivered to a storage yard in Tampa. Sanderson’s email included two photographs of the decking at its undisclosed location and no information on a subcontractor to install the floating dock next to the Bridge Street Pier.

During the Wednesday, Nov. 7, CRA meeting, City Attorney Ricinda Perry noted 10 days had passed since she sent Sanderson and his attorney, Roger Stanton, a letter notifying them the CRA was declaring Technomarine in default of the $119,980 contract agreed to in early 2017.

Perry’s letter gave Technomarine an additional 20 days to cure the contractual concerns before the CRA pursued legal action and/or asked the Florida Attorney General’s Office to investigate Technomarine’s business practices. Sanderson and Technomarine are already named as defendants in multiple lawsuits, including a 2017 suit that resulted in a jury awarding a yet-to-be-paid $1.7 million judgment against Technomarine.

Following a digital trail

During last week’s meeting, some CRA members seemed resigned to the idea that the dock project might be dead in the water and need to be started again from scratch. But member Jake Spooner said he could not accept losing the money, $83,682, the CRA already paid Technomarine.

During public comment, it was suggested that before giving up and pursuing the alternatives, Speciale be asked to call all the marine storage yards in the Tampa area in hopes of finding the undelivered dock components.

Local contractor and marine contractor Billy Cahoon then told The Sun he might know where the dock sections were, based on a photograph he saw in the paper. While the meeting continued, Cahoon was shown the photo Sanderson sent Speciale. Because of the building in the background, Cahoon thought it might have been taken near the Gandy Bridge in Tampa, by Orion Marine Construction and the Hula Bay Club.

City Treasurer Shayne Thompson suggested checking the photograph’s metadata and digital properties for information on where it was taken. The metadata included the longitude and latitude where the photo was taken, which is not always the case with digital photographs.

Using Google Earth, City Planner Alan Garrett retreated to his office and looked up the general longitude and latitude coordinates. Speciale then returned to his own office to research the exact GPS coordinates.

Using Google Earth, Speciale determined the longitude and latitude coordinates were slightly to the east and on the other side of Tampa Bay. When he zoomed in on the exact longitude and latitude, Speciale saw a white cabin cruiser sitting in an outdoor storage yard. When he rotated the view, he saw a building across the street that resembled the building in the photo Sanderson sent him.

That building is home to StorSafeStorage and using that address Speciale and CRA chair Ralph Cole drove to Gibsonton Thursday morning. They found the dock sections across the street sitting next to the cabin cruiser on the grounds of the Hecker Construction Company.

An employee told Speciale the dock sections were delivered two months ago and Hecker Construction has a verbal agreement with Technomarine to install the dock in Bradenton Beach.

While standing next to the dock sections, Speciale called The Sun and said, “We found our dock. We’re standing in front of it and touching it.”

In response to an email Speciale sent Sanderson later that day, Technomarine project manager Vinnie Frega confirmed the storage location – not knowing Speciale had already found it. In another email, Sanderson told Speciale the cleats and other hardware were still at Technomarine’s warehouse in North Palm Beach. Speciale is still awaiting word on where the dock’s pontoon floats are located.

“It was good to see the dock. It’s in good shape. Now we have to go the next step and get it, and I think we will,” Cole said.

Speciale said he’s feeling “cautiously optimistic.”

Perry will prepare for CRA approval a release agreement that if accepted would relieve Technomarine of its remaining contractual obligations. The agreement would assure Sanderson and Technomarine that no additional legal or investigative remedies would be pursued if the dock materials and additional hardware are released to the CRA. Hecker Construction could then install the floating dock as planned, working directly with the CRA.

Related Coverage

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