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Huts at Katie Pierola to be removed

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Seven small tiki huts at Bradenton Beach’s Katie Pierola Park, 2200 Gulf Drive N., will be removed by the city due to safety concerns.

At the March 15 city commission meeting, public works director Tom Woodard showed photos of the deteriorating huts. Woodard said he was directed by the previous administration to remove the huts, but he still needs direction from the commission.

“I was requested to remove the tiki huts, but it never came before the commission for approval,” said Woodard. “Now it’s getting to the point where they are in pretty bad shape.”

Woodard said he has neither the expertise on staff nor the funds to repair the huts. Funds also are not available through the community improvement projects committee, which has its budget tied up in other projects.

The photos also show a healthy growth of sea oats around the huts.

“I can’t remove that sea oats without (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) approval and I won’t get that,” said Woodard. “You can also see sand is rising around the huts from previous storms.”

Mayor John Shaugnessy said he visited the park and noticed the condition of the huts.

“I went down there and took a tour of them,” he said. “They are in bad shape. There are nails sticking out and the boards are warped. There is another concern also. I found blankets and pillows stuffed up underneath the roofs, probably from homeless people sleeping underneath them at night.”

Shaughnessy suggested removing the huts and replacing them with benches or picnic tables, “which would be less costly to the city,” he said.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said it was the safety concern that bothered her the most. “Someone can get hurt there,” she said.

Commissioner Gay Breuler noted that even if they could be repaired, the sea oats are making them virtually unusable.

Vosburgh motioned to have the city public works department remove the seven huts, and the motion was seconded by Breuler. The motion passed unanimously.

Also approved by the commissioners was a resolution allowing for elected officials and city board members to attend public meetings via electronic devices — either by conference call or webcam — in cases of emergencies.

There were concerns expressed on the potential to abuse the system.

“I don’t want people getting used to ‘oh, I don’t have to go,’” said Shaughnessy.

Gatehouse asked city attorney Ricinda Perry, who drew up the resolution, if there were any ways to monitor abuses.

“Absolutely,” she said. “If we find abuses down the road, then we can come in and redefine it.”

Perry also recommended that the resolution be forwarded to every city department so that all city staff could see there are requirements that must be met before remotely attending a meeting.

Breuler moved to adopt the resolution, to include all city boards, which was seconded by Vosburgh, and passed unanimously.

In other city matters, former city commissioner Janie Robertson questioned commissioners on the request for proposal, previously approved by the commission in regards to the cellular communications proposal.

Robertson wanted clarification on a time window.

Perry answered for the commissioners, saying the RFP was supposed to be on the March 15 agenda, but didn’t make it.

And Shaugnessy reported the Historic Bridge Street Pier won a Manatee Chamber of Commerce award, “which was very nice,” said Shaugnessy. He also updated commissioners on his discussions with the county regarding the trolleys.

“I suggested to them that kids are indoctrinated to walk out in front of their school bus because they know it’s safe, but they are doing the same things with the trolley. The trolleys now have signs on the back glass to warn people about passing. Also, (the county) is going to put a speaker system in the trolleys in order for the drivers to ask people not to walk in front of the trolley, and to wait until the trolley has departed.”

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