Fishing lines are being cast for the first time since June 25 when Tropical Storm Debby shut down the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
One month to the day, after a half-dozen boats broke loose from their moorings and smashed into the pier, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale announced repairs were completed. The pier reopened July 27.
In early July, Bradenton Beach commissioners opted to keep the pier closed after they learned repairs could cost as much as $10,000. With a pier reconstruction project planned for 2012-13, commissioners said it wasn’t appropriate to spend $10,000 to repair what would soon be replaced.
Speciale said July 19 that a company, Deck Docktors, offered to repair the piling for $2,500. With the reconstruction project an estimated nine months away, commissioners approved work at the lower cost.
Speciale and Mayor John Shaughnessy noted that operators of Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant, located on the pier, were concerned over lost business due to the pier’s closure. With a lower than expected repair cost, Shaughnessy said it was worth the payment to get the pier reopened to the public.
That was good news to Rotten Ralph’s manager Ken Davis.
“We are definitely looking forward to the pier reopening,” said Davis prior to the pier reopening July 27, who noted business had dropped significantly since the closure although the restaurant had remained opened.
“We’ve lost a lot of the walk-in traffic that we would normally get when people are out fishing,” he said. “It’s not a lot of our business, but there always are a few people who come in and get something to eat or want something cold to drink.”
The restaurant was losing about $1,000 a day and Davis said the bait shop, which shares revenue with the restaurant, also felt the impact.
“I don’t have exact numbers, but I’m comfortable in saying that we’ve lost about two-thirds of our bait shop business,” he said. “We’ve made the best out of what we have, so I hope the pier reopening will get us back on track.”