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Chappie says ‘shovel ready’ a possibility for BP money

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie told Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce board members that any money the county receives from the BP oil spill of April 2010 may first have to go to “shovel-ready jobs.”

Chappie was responding at the chamber’s Oct. 17 meeting to a question from Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen. She asked if some of the BP money might go toward construction of a new pier at Manatee Public Beach. The old pier was torn down several years ago after engineers declared it unsafe.

The Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion in April 2010 that resulted in millions of gallons of oil seeping into the northern Gulf waters affected the coastal environment of all five Gulf Coast states. The states collectively have sued BP, which has set aside a fund of $27 billion to pay claims. The lawsuit is in a Texas court and no trial date has been set.

County natural resources director Charlie Hunsicker has said the county could receive $4 million-$20 million in BP money.

Chappie said the county commission has not had any final word on a settlement and discussions of “shovel-ready jobs” has only been informal.

A problem with using any BP funds for the pier, Chappie said, is that the location of the old pier is under a five-year erosion study by the county and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The study still has a few more years to run, he said.

If the study finds erosion occurs at that location, engineers have said a groin is the answer. If there’s no erosion found, the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants any new structure to be higher than the old pier.

“So we may or may not get a pier,” Peelen said.

Chappie said the BP settlement is a long way from being finalized and he did not want to predict where any BP money received by the county might go.

In other chamber business, David Teitelbaum, Ellen Aguilina, Joe Landolfi and Linda Dickson were re-elected to the board of directors, along with new board member Amy Tobin. Wayne Gunter was elected alternate board member.

Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Gay Breuler said her city’s cell tower ordinance is “in shape and going forward with a location behind the police station.”

The location will be adjacent to the marina and the tower will look like the mast of a tall ship in port, she said.

She estimated it would take about a year to get the tower “up and running.”

Chamber president Mary Ann Brockman reminded members of the Nov. 5 annual banquet and installation of officers at the Key Royale Club in Holmes Beach.

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