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BB city pier team eyes more renovation

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Pilings jut out from the Historic Bridge Street Pier under and around Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant. The Bradenton Beach City Pier Team is working toward replacing some degraded pilings, which have been supporting the pier since 1977. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Discussion on performing new construction work to the Historic Bridge Street Pier is moving quickly toward action.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, facilitator of the city pier team, addressed the Community Redevelopment Agency at its Feb. 29 meeting, saying it needs to proceed with replacing degrading pilings under the pier.

“What we will need to do is get together in a workshop to take care of a couple of issues,” said Speciale. “We need to discuss changing pilings out, whether we will use wood, try to sleeve them or put concrete pilings back in there.”

The city pier project will need to be in cooperation with the CRA, as it will be CRA funds that pay for the project.

Future renovations planned for the pier include new decking, but everyone agreed that the pilings are a priority. Discussion on reconfiguring the pier also is on the table, as a means to limit costs.

Bradenton Beach city clerk Nora Idso said the CRA has $400,000 that could be put toward the pier renovation. “So ($400,000) will dictate what we do,” said Speciale. “The time has come and we need to do this. Tom (Woodard, public works director) has been band-aiding this pier for years.”

CRA members agreed to meet with the city pier team, which also met March 1 at Bradenton Beach City Hall.

Speciale announced to his team the upcoming meeting with CRA and said the focus of the city pier team must be on moving forward with the piling project.

Speciale recommended the city pier team begin to meet twice a month, rather than once a month, and once the project actually begins, to increase meetings to once a week.

“We really need to start thinking of putting all of our efforts into the scope of the work of what we want to do with the pier,” he said.

Associated costs for materials may dictate major changes to the pier in the future.

“Reconfiguration will more or less have to do with the costs,” Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert told the pier team. “Those pilings in now have been in since 1977. One thing to consider when deciding on types of materials is that the quality of yellow pine today is not what it was 20 years ago.”

The team will begin compiling pricing on wood, composite or concrete materials, and will take into consideration the lifespan of each material.

“Right now, we just want to bring a price to the commission and get their opinion,” said Speciale.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said she favors using composite materials for the decking. “It lasts forever, but gets very hot, which will make it difficult in the summer.”

The team is considering removing the T-end of the city pier to bring down costs, but keeping the option open to do the project in phases, and possibly reinstalling the T-end when funding becomes available.

Once the team has compiled information needed for commissioners to make an informed decision on how to proceed, the team will present its proposal to the commission.

“Let’s concentrate on getting all of this information together,” said Speciale. “We’ll keep building on it and go from there.”

The CRA district within the city was established about 18 years ago to revitalize what was deemed a blighted area of the city. The CRA is a tool to dedicate certain property tax dollars for revitalization within the district.

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