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Additional funds may save T-end of BB pier

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

A fisher of a different kind takes up a prime spot on the T-end of the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier. The T-end has come under scrutiny in an upcoming reconstruction project, but there may be funding to support maintaining it. Islander Photo: Mark Young

The Bradenton Beach City Pier Team officially shifted focus from routine pier matters to the proposed reconstruction and piling replacement project at its monthly meeting at city hall.

“This is the initial meeting of what we will call the 2012 city of Bradenton Beach pier reconstruction project meeting,” said Police Chief Sam Speciale, who facilitates the city pier team.

At its February meeting, the committee agreed to begin compiling and consolidating information for member review. Speciale said the “book has started to be put together for anyone involved to review.”

The committee currently has old project estimates available from the previous renovation project, which at that time, called for the city to address further piling and decking replacement.

The project was initially capped by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency — which will fund the project — at $400,000.

City clerk Nora Idso set the amount, but has announced the CRA might have more money to put into the project.

City public works director Tom Woodard also had good news from the company that submitted the original proposal.

“They told me piling costs have dropped,” said Woodard.

The $400,000 project cap brought forth prior cost-saving discussions, including the possibility of removing the pier T-end, as well as narrowing the overall pier.

With costs for piling replacement dropping and additional funding being a possibility, the committee’s hope is to move forward with the project without having to reconfigure the pier.

“The initial statement about cutting off the T or modifying it is now that hopefully we won’t have to do that,” said Speciale.

The amount of new funding available was not yet known, but Idso said she would be able to provide the committee a number for its April 19 meeting.

The CRA — also the city commission — is scheduled to meet April 18.

In the meantime, the pier committee agreed to prepare a CRA agenda request to get permission to move forward with an engineering study, if needed. An old one exists, but may need to be modified, updated or replaced.

Building official Steve Gilbert would contact the contractor on record — the contractor who performed the previous renovation — and will determine what may be needed regarding the study.

Mayor John Shaughnessy asked the committee how serious the problem was and how soon the project could start.

“The whole idea is to get it done as soon as possible,” said Speciale. “We’ll follow all of the procedures and get it done. At the time when we put the restaurant in, it wasn’t serious enough to do it right away, but we were told we needed to make plans to do it as soon as possible and that was several years ago.”

The last report provided on the pilings was submitted in 2010 “and the recommendation was we do it within three to five years,” said Woodard. “So we are right there now.”

Speciale said he would like to see the project start by summer, “so when everybody comes back, they come back to a brand new pier.”

Idso said it would take two to three months just to send out a request for proposal.

The scope of work planned for the pier includes replacing 151 pilings and putting in new decking. The committee continued to discuss whether to use wood or composite materials, which would have a longer lifespan than wood.

“Those are things we will figure out as we move forward,” said Speciale. “Until we have a number, we don’t know.”

Idso reminded the committee that while additional funding may become available, the project would be limited to the final amount.

“It’s important to remember that we can’t get a loan for this project,” she said. “It stretches out into state waters and can’t be insured. You can’t get a loan on something that you can’t insure.”

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