Rod & Reel Pier closes but quickly reopens

Rod & Reel Pier closes but quickly reopens
This side view of the Rod & Reel pier showed where it was sagging as of last Wednesday morning, Nov. 20. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria reopened Saturday morning, Nov. 23, after being closed for two days to make repairs to the pier walkway.

The Rod & Reel Pier was closed on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 20, due to a portion of the pier walkway slowly collapsing and sagging toward the southeastern edge of the pier due to a broken piling.

The impacted section of the pier was cordoned off with safety tape Wednesday morning, but the pier and the pier restaurant remained open. Rod & Reel Pier manager Dave Cochran said the repairs that would include replacing the broken piling, and that would require a barge that wasn’t available until later in the week.

Wednesday night, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, “The Rod & Reel Pier agreed to a voluntary shutdown this evening due to the public safety hazard. The pier walkway stringer and support collapsed on the walkway. An emergency permit to repair the pier will be issued in the morning.”

On Thursday, Murphy said the city’s primary concern was public safety. He said he was pleased that the Rod & Reel management took it upon themselves to close their pier while making the repairs.

Late Friday afternoon, Building Official Luke Curtis provided Murphy with a status update via email.

“I have given the OK for the Rod & Reel Pier to open. An inspection was performed earlier and the structure is safe. They may still be putting the final touches on the work, but it is structurally sound. David, the Rod & Reel Pier manager, said he would be opening back up in the morning,” Curtis said in his email to the mayor.

Privately-owned pier

Mario Schoenfelder owns the Rod & Reel Pier and the restaurant and bar at the end of it. The city is not responsible for the maintenance and repair of that pier or its structures, but a city-issued permit was needed for the repairs, as was the post-repair inspection by Curtis.

Schoenfelder has also long served as the pier tenant of the nearby city-owned Anna Maria City Pier. The already-aging city pier was closed in 2017 due to damage sustained during Hurricane Irma.

Schoenfelder has until Dec. 13 submit to the city his final offer for a new long-term lease that would allow him to continue as the city pier’s tenant for the foreseeable future. Schoenfelder’s current lease expires in Dec. 2020.

The new city pier currently under construction is expected to open in Feb. 2020. The interior build-out of the new restaurant and bait shop buildings is expected to take place after the public is allowed to return to the main pier walkway and the T-end decking.

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