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Date of Issue: December 21, 2006

Cortez funding request goes to county

A large step toward dressing up the old Cortez school in its final plumage is in the hands of the Manatee County Commission for action this week.

It is a request for $160,000 to complete landscaping, a parking lot, trails into the adjoining FISH Preserve, pads for the historic Pillsbury Boat Works building, and security for the grounds.

That will go a long way toward completing the project that began six years ago when Manatee County and the state bought the 1912-built building from the estate of the late artist Robert Sailors.

Renovation has progressed step by slow step until it now is restored from the ground up and ready to become the Florida Maritime Museum. The financial support came from the county, the state and grants from several sources, including the Selby Foundation.

The historic Burton Store is on the grounds now, and the Pillsbury building will be moved from Snead Island when its pad is completed.

That is a part of the funding being sought from the county, said Roger Allen, Cortez historic sites manager in charge of the school's renovation and the maritime museum.

"What we're doing is asking for money to complete implementation of the original site plan," he said. "We got part of the money, for the engineering part, and now we need to get on with the rest of it."

Commissioners put it on their agenda for consideration Tuesday afternoon, and Allen and the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, sponsor of this project and most of the rest of keeping the historic village going, were to testify and explain the entire situation to the commission.