Dan Murphy is Sun’s Person of the Year

Sun Person Murphy
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy spent a great deal of time in 2018 securing funding and selecting contractors to demolish and build a new city pier. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy is The Sun’s 2018 Person of the Year.

Working with the city commission, city staff and outside contractors, Murphy spent much of 2018 working on getting a new Anna Maria City Pier built.

Already due for significant rehabilitation, the aging pier was closed in September 2017 because of damage sustained during Hurricane Irma.

In 2018, Murphy secured $750,000 in pier funding from the state legislature, approximately $800,000 from FEMA and $1.8 million from Manatee County, and his pursuit of funding sources for the estimated $4.85 million pier project continues.

Before the pier was demolished in July, Murphy secured at no cost to the city the services of local contractor Frank Agnelli and his crew, who removed the engraved wooden pier planks so they could be returned to those who requested them. The remaining planks will be used to build memorial walls.

The first pilings for the new pier platform are scheduled to be driven the third week of January. The contract with i+iconSoutheast requires the pier platform to be done by August 26.

The construction of the restaurant, bait shop and public restrooms at the pier’s T-end will be handled as a separate and congruent project contingent on the terms Murphy and pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder negotiate regarding the tenant’s contribution to the interior buildout of the pier building.

Murphy said the pier platform will be opened to the public once the pier building shell is constructed. If needed, the interior buildout can take place after that.

Other accomplishments

Working with the commission and city staff, Murphy helped create the city-sponsored seasonal farmer’s market that debuted in City Pier Park in March and resumed in October, and also Movies in The Park, a weekly family film night, that began last January and resumed in December.

Murphy, a military veteran, was the driving force behind the city’s annual Veterans Day parade and the post-parade ceremonies in City Pier Park that took place for the second time in November. He also helped create the annual Holiday Carols in the Park and Fourth of July cookouts.

Working with City Attorney Becky Vose and lobbyist Chip Case, Murphy helped torpedo state legislation aimed at lessening Florida cities’ ability to regulate vacation rentals by introducing a sexual predator amendment that killed the proposed legislation.

Murphy and the commission dedicated significant funds for drainage and stormwater projects and agreed to make an additional $100,000 lump sum payment on the $2.84 million loan secured in 2011 to purchase the City Pier Park property. The additional payments significantly reduce the length of the loan and the interest owed.

In past years, Murphy and the commission adopted the vacation rental ordinance and registration program that created an expanded code enforcement department funded primarily by registration fees.

Murphy’s reflections

Murphy, a former Verizon executive, and his wife, Barbara, moved to Anna Maria in 1993 after living in Holmes Beach for nearly two decades. He was elected mayor in 2014 and ran unopposed in 2016 and 2018.

Murphy said he spent about 60 percent of his mayoral time this year working on the pier.

“I get nothing but compliments about what we’re doing with that pier. We worked real hard and now we’re at the beginning. It’s probably going to consume even more time, but I’m confident we can deliver and make sure we’re getting what we’re paying for. Once construction starts, I think it’s going to become a sightseeing attraction for people to come watch the construction and the progress,” he said.

Drainage improvements also remain a high priority. “We made a lot of progress with drainage, but we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got an aggressive plan for 2019 and I want to make sure we hit our target dates,” Murphy said.

Regarding the impact of the city events held in and around City Pier Park, Murphy said, “They build a sense of community within the city of Anna Maria. They also stimulate the city’s economy by bringing people to Anna Maria and showing them what the city has to offer.”

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