BRADENTON BEACH – Police Chief Sam Speciale will no longer serve as the facilitator and city liaison for the Community Redevelopment Agency’s (CRA) yet-to-be completed floating dock project.
Speciale made the announcement in an email sent to Mayor John Chappie and the city commissioners at 1:29 p.m. on Thursday, April 18.
“With the sending of this email, I am officially stepping down as facilitator for the floating dock project. A recent shift in the duties of individuals has put the direction of this project in a direction I do not agree with, and it is for these reasons I am stepping down. I will forward any correspondence to date with any and all of the parties involved and will advise all parties to forward any further correspondence to the city attorney and to the city treasurer,” Speciale’s email said in its entirety.
Speciale’s email did not specify which duties had changed and when contacted later in the week he declined additional comment. Speciale is not retiring as the city’s police chief.
City Hall was closed on Friday due to the Easter holiday and no formal discussion had taken place yet as to who would replace Speciale as the dock project facilitator.
Until last week, Speciale served as point man for the CRA-funded efforts to install a floating public day dock along the south side of the Bridge Street Pier. The new dock will replace the storm-damaged floating dock removed in 2017.
The dock project began in early 2017 when the CRA contracted the Technomarine Group to manufacture and install the floating dock for $119,980. Due to circumstances beyond the control of Speciale and the CRA, the yet-to-be-completed project has dragged on for nearly two years.
In mid-2017, Technomarine representative Ben Talbert predicted the dock would be installed that September or October. After that potential deadline was missed, Technomarine CEO Erik Sanderson promised subsequent completion deadlines that were also missed. Earlier this year the CRA severed its working relationship with Technomarine.
On April 10, the CRA members directed City Attorney Ricinda Perry to draft a contract to enter into with the Gibsonton-based Hecker Construction Company to install the pilings and the pre-manufactured deck sections alongside the pier for $105,754. This will bring the estimated final cost of the floating dock project to between $190,000 and $195,000.
During the April 18 city commission meeting, Perry said she was still working on those contract terms. The CRA members want the contract to include a specific completion date, but that request is complicated by a separate permitting process with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The CRA needs an updated submerged land lease before the new floating dock can be installed.
Until last week, Speciale also served as the CRA liaison with the Environmental Science Associates (ESA) consulting firm that is assisting the CRA with the submerged land lease update. The update is required not only for the floating dock but also for the pending installation of a police department boatlift and the proposed installation of additional finger docks that would expand the public dockage provided by the floating dock.
On April 10, ESA representative Dianne Rosensweig told CRA members she would submit the needed documents to FDEP and the Army Corps by mid-May. She said she does not anticipate any more delays with the submerged land lease update, but she said she couldn’t promise when those two agencies would sign off on the lease update that is needed before the floating dock can be installed.
When the dock project started, FDEP considered it to be a standalone project, but the state agency now wants all three pier area projects combined into a single submerged land lease update.