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40-year repair shop must make way

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Judi Rickerson and her son Aaron at Island Auto Repair, 5608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, are looking to relocate the business. The site has been owned by the Grooms family for more than 40 years. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Barry Grooms says he has concerns abut the volume of misinformation circulating about his commercial property in Holmes Beach and the termination of his tenant’s lease on Jan. 2.

He also says he “feels bad” that Island Auto Repair will need to relocate from 5608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

“There is a lot of misinformation being spread around about the lease. Some of the stuff has been crazy,” Grooms said.

A few months ago, he told Island Auto Repair owners Judi and Aaron Rickerson that their lease would not be renewed. Grooms said he and his family have been planning a new project at their property for several years.

“I can definitely say it’s not condominiums. That’s one of the crazier things I’ve heard,” he said.

He’s also heard people blame him for putting the shop out of business.

That’s just not true, Grooms said. Island Auto Repair can relocate. And he’s allowing them to take the large equipment that was leased with the shop.

Judi Rickerson said the family would like the business to stay on Anna Maria Island, but it might not be possible if a location can’t be found.

Rickerson first worked at the Grooms’ shop, then took over the space when the Grooms’ family retired its business, Grooms Motors and Automotive.

Judi Rickerson said she offered to pay Grooms twice the monthly rent to be allowed to stay, but that Grooms told her money was “not the issue.”

“I feel like we’re getting a raw deal,” Rickerson said. She said Grooms came to her in early October to tell her the lease would not be renewed. She believes he could have told her sooner.

“I’m sure he’s known about the project for some time,” she said.

But she also told The Islander recently she owes more than $10,000 in back taxes, and was struggling to pay the shop’s bills.

She said she is thankful that so many in the community have offered to help her raise funds to relocate.

And it’s not like Grooms just arrived in Holmes Beach or just bought the property.

“I do feel bad for them. My mom rented them space years ago because they were friends,” he said.

The Grooms family operated at the location from 1968 to 1998. Barry Grooms’ said after his parents retired, they leased the entire shop to Rickerson.

Another issue Grooms said is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has found some contaminants in the ground that must be removed.

It’s not the first time he’s had to pay to have chemicals and other materials cleared from the property.

“We have spent thousands of dollars to mediate the issue with the DEP and are continuing to spend for monitoring. We have to remove the source of the contamination, Grooms said.

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