BRADENTON BEACH – Old Town Trams, an anticipated dock expansion project, additional utility line undergrounding, eliminating term limits and Hurricane Ian damage were among the top news stories in Bradenton Beach in 2022.
In early November, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) members voted 3-2 in favor of extending the CRA-funded Old Town Tram parking shuttle program for another six months. Beginning in late January, the county sewer rehabilitation project taking place along Gulf Drive South for the next year or more will temporarily decrease the number of Cortez Beach parking spaces available for tram users.
Ongoing permitting issues with the Army Corps of Engineers prevented the dock expansion project alongside the Bridge Street Pier from taking place in 2022. The permitting issue pertains to the CRA’s desired eastward extension of the existing floating dock in order to accommodate additional finger piers. The Army Corps of Engineers has not yet approved the CRA’s request to extend the floating dock by approximately 40 feet to the east, toward the T-end of the pier.
In early November, City Attorney Ricinda Perry said she expected the CRA to soon receive an approved sovereign submerged land lease permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), allowing the premanufactured finger docks to be installed and connected to the existing floating dock while awaiting the dock extension approval. The floating dock is also expected to serve as a landing area for the downtown Bradenton to Anna Maria Island water taxi service Manatee County plans to launch in early 2023. At year’s end, the finger pier installations had not begun.
Colliers Engineering & Design completed the plans for a $2.1 million flood control project designed to improve drainage and reduce flooding in the vicinities of 20th Place North, 21st Place North, the southern end of Avenue A and the southern end of Avenue B. The flood control project is being funded by a $2.6 million state appropriation. The city has until June 30, 2024, to complete the project expected to begin at some point in 2023.
The state appropriation also provided the funds for the city to purchase a new TYMCO Model 435 Regenerative Air Sweeper truck for $154,352.
The CRA members held several discussions in 2022 that resulted in the completed plans for a currently unfunded Bay Drive South resiliency project that would create a resiliency barrier along Bay Drive South Shoreline and help protect that area from rising tides, king tides, storm surges and sea level rise.
In September, the CRA board approved a $195,853 binding cost estimate provided by Florida Power & Light for the next phase of utility line undergrounding project expected to take place along Third, Fourth and Fifth streets south, Bay Drive South and Gulf Drive South in 2023.
In September, the CRA board approved a $195,853 binding cost estimate provided by Florida Power & Light for the next phase of utility line undergrounding project expected to take place along Third, Fourth and Fifth streets south, Bay Drive South and Gulf Drive South in 2023. The city also received $3 million in state appropriation funds for future undergrounding projects outside the CRA district that extends from the Cortez Bridge to Fifth Street South. City officials still await the removal of 33 side-street utility poles associated with a previously completed undergrounding project along Gulf Drive South.
In December, the building department received the initial permit applications for a proposed hotel construction project involving multiple properties along Bridge Street, Gulf Drive South and Third Street South. The submitted plans propose a total of 103 upper-level hotel units, 126 ground-level parking spaces, a rooftop pool and deck area, ground-level retail space and a ground-level miniature golf course. Developer Shawn Kaleta and Bradenton Beach businessman and City Commissioner Jake Spooner are listed as the property owners for the proposed hotel project.
In November, Bradenton Beach voters approved a charter amendment that eliminated the term limits that previously limited the city’s mayor and city commissioners to serving no more than three consecutive two-year terms in office, allowing incumbent Ward 2 Commissioner Marilyn Maro to serve another term in office. Maro ran unopposed in the November election. Eliminating term limits also means Mayor John Chappie and Spooner can seek additional terms in office during the 2023 election. Running unopposed, Ward 4 Commissioner Ralph Cole also earned another two-year term in office.
City voters also supported a charter amendment that now allows the commission to appoint someone from outside of a specific commission ward to fill a vacant commission seat if no one from that ward is willing to serve.
In late September, Hurricane Ian inflicted significant damage on two waterfront mobile homes in the Pines Trailer Park. The hurricane also damaged at least four mobile homes in the Sandpiper Resort Co-Op at the north end of the city. The hurricane also damaged the police department roof and those repairs are now pending.
The Bradenton Beach City Commission and CRA provided the Bridge Street merchants with $2,000 of combined financial support for the merchants’ annual Christmas tree lighting event, Christmas on Bridge Street and the annual Holiday Boat Parade.
In April, former Bradenton Beach resident and Sunshine Law lawsuit defendant Reed Mapes passed away. At the time of his death, Mapes was the only defendant still appealing a 2019 court ruling that Mapes and five other former city advisory board members violated Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law when discussing official city business outside of a properly noticed public meeting.