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Date of Issue: December 16, 2009

Manatee Public Beach 700-foot pier a possibility

Holmes Beach city commissioners at their Dec. 8 meeting at city hall again discussed what type of pier they want to see replace the newly demolished one at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who chairs the county Tourist Development Council, said that Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county natural resources department, has identified funding for a 700-foot-long pier.

At a previous meeting, a majority of city commissioners said they were in favor of a “T”-end 300-foot-long pier. That was under the assumption that funding was not available for a longer pier.

“There’s a bid coming up on the concessions,” Whitmore said, “and the extra money from there could go to pay for it.”

“I say 300 feet,” Commissioner Pat Morton said, “and if you don’t want to go 300 feet, then nothing at all.”

“I do prefer the 700-foot pier,” Commissioner John Monetti said. “If the money’s there, all the more in my opinion.”

“Just because the money’s there doesn’t mean you have to spend it and waste it,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino said. “I think what’s important is, big bridge, big pier, looks like every other place in the state of Florida. It’s not primarily a fishing pier, and it’s not a good fishing spot anyway.”

“It might be a good fishing spot at 700 feet,” Monetti said.

“I’m not on top of this,” Commissioner Al Robinson said. “If the fish are out there at 700, I say take it out there to 700.”

Discussion on funding for the new pier was on the agenda at the Dec. 14 TDC meeting, which took place as The Islander went to press.

In other business, an in-house estimate for a possible sidewalk along the north side of Manatee Avenue from the intersection at East Bay Drive to the public beach came in at $21,000. The Florida Department of Transportation, however, will conduct its own estimate. Commissioners said federal stimulus funding for the project is not available.

Robinson spoke on the DOT plan to spend $170,000 to replace traffic signals at the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue with new equipment that is able to withstand higher wind speeds.

Robinson called for a resolution against the signals.

“Don’t we have an obligation at the city of Holmes Beach to say, ‘This money is being wasted and we the commissioners do not put a stamp of approval on this waste of funds?’” Robinson said. “We don’t stand behind it.”

But Monetti told Robinson, “Here in Holmes Beach, if we go after what the state is doing on state roads, it’s really not the best use of our energies,” Monetti told Robinson.

Monetti then addressed a complaint from a city resident about raccoons.

“We don’t have funding or a department for that,” Monetti said.

He called Manatee County Animal Services and learned that they do not have funding for relocating raccoons.

The commission canceled its Dec. 22 meeting because of the holidays. The next meeting will be Jan 12.