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Corps takes blames for Bradenton Beach dock delay

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

A fisher disregards a sign from the city of Bradenton Beach announcing the closure of the Eighth Street South dock. The dock has been scheduled to be replaced for almost two years and frustration from nearby residents is growing. Islander Photo: Mark Young

Aaron Burr was a Revolutionary War hero and served as vice president under Thomas Jefferson, but perhaps one of his most famous quotes set an early tone for how the government would operate well into the future.

“Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow,” he said.

Perhaps Burr never realized he may have invented red tape when it comes to the slow process of government, but residents along Eighth Street South in Bradenton Beach don’t likely care, as they have been waiting for almost two years to have the Eighth Street dock replaced.

The old Eighth Street South dock is city-owned and it was essentially condemned by the city about two years ago with a promise that it would be replaced.

Budget issues have left the project out of the city’s priority list ever since, but this past summer, residents on Eighth Street South stepped up to the plate and volunteered to fund a new city dock on their own.

The news was welcomed by the city and efforts began to have a new fishing pier approved by the appropriate agencies that closely monitors development proposals on a barrier island.

Burr’s recommendation of putting something off today to do tomorrow can take on a whole new meaning when it comes to any project on Anna Maria Island.

After working through the red tape of other agencies, building official Steve Gilbert sent the project proposal to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tampa Regulatory Office more than a month ago, the final step needed to begin construction.

In an email dated Jan. 24, Gilbert asked the corps for an update.

“It has now been over a month, and I’m getting a lot of questions about how long this is going to take,” Gilbert wrote. “Can you give me an idea as to when we can expect approval, so we can proceed?”

Mindy Hogan-Charles, a project manager at the Tampa field office, responded the same day, but not necessarily with good news.

“Unfortunately, the Tampa Regulatory Office has experienced a manpower shortage, which resulted in pending projects being delayed,” she wrote. “In addition, I have been tasked by management to work on a highly controversial and complex project, which is delaying my pending projects.”

Hogan-Charles said the Tampa office has recently hired a project manager from another state, “and the individual is currently being trained on local and state of Florida issues … at this time your project is currently pending.”

Gilbert responded saying he understood that nothing on a barrier island is simple and sympathized with the staff shortage.

“However, this particular project is probably the least problematic as it could get,” he wrote. “We are removing an old dock, which did not meet any kind of standards and replacing it with a fully compliant fishing pier.”

City commissioners approved the project in 2009, but did not fund it. The city accepted bids in August 2012 when Eighth Street South residents volunteered to pay the estimated $12,000 for the pier.

Gilbert said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved the project in November, “So it’s been almost two months now. We have contractors waiting on this project, as well as every resident on Eighth Street South.”

Gilbert suggested someone at the Tampa office should take “a few minutes here and there, which would clear up a lot of the little permits,” such as this one.

As of Islander press time, there has been no further response from the Tampa office.

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