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Water taxi needs key Island stop

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

leaseholder of the Anna Maria City Pier is still considering a proposal by Capt. Tracey Dell to have a water taxi from downtown Bradenton dock at the city pier as an integral stop on its route to a mix of Island locations.

But Dave Sork, manager of the Anna Maria City Pier restaurant, representing leaseholder Mario Schoenfelder, admitted he was too busy during December to schedule time for “serious discussions” with Dell.

“That’s something I definitely have to do as soon as possible,” he said.

Dell went to the Anna Maria City Commission in November with his proposal, but was told by city attorney Jim Dye that he first needs to get an agreement with Schoenfelder. After that, the city would review the agreement and determine if it met the terms of the lease.

Sork said he was going to call Dell and get into the “nuts and bolts” of the proposition to dock and bring passengers to the pier.

Dell, who operates the Kathleen D catamaran charter from the Bradenton Marina, wants to start with service from downtown Bradenton to the Anna Maria City Pier and a few other Island locations, such as the Historic Bridge Street Pier and the Mainsail (formerly Tidemark) Marina in Holmes Beach.

He also has plans to dock passengers at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County.

The “key” to the shuttle is the Anna Maria City Pier location, Dell said. He said has yet to schedule a “sit-down” meeting and go over the plan with Sork.

“Without the pier stop, the shuttle really doesn’t make sense. We need to have the Anna Maria pier to get over to Fort DeSoto and bring visitors from there to Anna Maria for a day trip.

“So, we’ll talk to Dave (Sork) and hopefully we can settle his issues and move forward,” Dell said.

The water taxi proposed is the “Island Pearl,” a 50-foot former U.S. Navy personnel transport that was refitted in Maine in 2004 to ferry passengers among the small coastal islands there. After refitting, it was named “Boat of the Year” in 2004 by the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine, he said.

The boat is currently undergoing additional renovations, including upgrading its facilities to become more environmentally friendly, Dell said.

“We’re using green technology wherever possible on the boat.”

Dell said the vessel will have photovoltaic panels that use the sun’s energy to charge batteries and fulfill other energy needs, and the bilge pump has a separation device to remove oil that might otherwise discharge into surrounding waters.

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