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Date of Issue: January 27, 2010

Proposed boardwalk faces time, code issues

Members of Anna Maria’s transportation enhancement grant committee meet with Florida Department of Transportation officials and engineers Jan. 19 to discuss specifics of a planned boardwalk at the pier. City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, right, chairs the committee. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

When Anna Maria’s transportation enhancement group committee was first planning a boardwalk at city pier to be funded by a $358,000 federal grant, the plan was fairly simple and the cost estimate was about $100,000.

Now that the grant has been upped to $960,000 through efforts by the Florida Department of Transportation, the committee has plans for a better boardwalk and accompanying amenities.

The resulting project has become more complex, and the committee could face a time issue if the boardwalk is to be ready by April 2011, when the city celebrates the 100th anniversary of the pier.

 City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, who chairs the TEG committee, told Manon Lavoie of the DOT at the Jan. 19 TEG meeting that the committee wants the boardwalk completed by January 2011, in plenty of time for the centennial celebration April 14-17.

Lavoie sounded a note of concern.

“That’s quick,” she said. “We need to check to see if it can be done.”

Engineer Mike Grosswirth of Jacobs Global Engineering Co. from Deerfield Beach, who came with Lavoie to the meeting, said the project could be done in a year, but added that government projects don’t run that fast.

“We are already biting into that time,” he said.

Grosswirth said the bid package would not be ready until July and construction would take 90 to 180 days to complete following the bid award.

And before the project can go to bid, the plan has to be approved by the city commission and presented at a public meeting.

“You need to give us the complete data” of what the city wants, Lavoie said to the committee.

Mattick presented Lavoie and Grosswirth with a design drawing by TEG committee member Tim Eiseler that calls for a 180-foot-long boardwalk, two covered trolley shelters, additional landscaping, picnic shelters, parking, benches and signage.

Mattick divided the boardwalk, which she said would be similar to the nature walk at Robinson Preserve, into two parts.

The parking lot north of the pier entrance would be converted to one way for northbound motorists and angle parking would be on the side of the lot away from the bay. This will allow the Island trolley easier access and turn-around ability, she said.

Twenty-one designated parking spaces would be in the north section and the only exit would be alongside the humpback bridge.

Parking in the south section would be essentially unchanged, she said, but motorcycle, bicycle and handicapped parking would be provided.

The “nature walk” would be made of the best possible wood materials, would have no railings, but will allow someone to walk from the city pier to Bayfront Park without walking behind a vehicle, Mattick said.

The pier entrance would comply with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

That’s a lot to do in a little time, said committee member Mike Coleman. “Time is short,” he noted.

Committee member Sissy Quinn said construction would need to finish by December to avoid the 2010 winter tourist season. The construction could “run into the first part of the season, but is has to be done by April,” she said.

Engineer Dave Panlilio of Jacobs said that based on the end date, the quicker a design package could be given to the committee and commission, the better for everyone.

Mattick said she would update the commission on the “nature walk” at its Jan. 28 meeting, and the TEG will meet with engineers and Lavoie again Feb. 16. Another update to the commission will be given Feb. 25, with Lavoie attending to answer questions.

Lavoie said the DOT will supervise design and construction. The project cost will be covered by the grant and any cost overrun would be paid by the DOT, she said.

But Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who attended the meeting and has expressed concern with parking and safety, said he has reservations about the project.

The planned boardwalk and amenities are a “great concept,” he said. “But I don’t see this working. The south side should be OK, but I see problems with the north side.”

He does not think there is enough room on the north side to meet the city parking requirements for new development. And, Stoltzfus added, this is “new development” and would fall under those land development regulations.

Mattick, however, said the pier project is an “enhancement” of the pier, not a new project. It’s up to the city commission to decide those issues, once the design and scope of the project are presented, she said.

 Mattick hopes the design can be done for the commission’s Feb. 25 meeting, or soon thereafter.

If the commission approves the project, it must be permitted by the city.