It was clear sailing for Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon and former Mayor John Shaughnessy Aug. 12 for the official kick off of renovations to the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
Commissioners Jan Vosburgh and Ed Straight, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, public works director Tom Woodward and some members of the public met mid-morning for the celebration and installation of a sign officially declaring the pier off limits for construction.
A few surprised folks toting fishing poles weren’t happy to discover the pier closed, but after being pointed to an alternate fishing spot, they were receptive.
Plans for arrival of a barge with workers and equipment were delayed due to the tide. It seemed high tide was needed to access the area, so everyone contented themselves with watching Duncan Seawall Dock and Boat Lift employees as they removed the first section of the decking to start the project.
Shaughnessy said he was happy with the decision to add 15 pilings as buffers to prevent a repeat of the damage done when boats that broke from their moorings slammed against the pier during tropical storm Debby in June 2012 and again in June 2013 during effects from tropical storm Andrea. Those incidents delayed work scheduled to begin prior to June 2012.
The $1,478,717 contract is being paid by Bradenton Beach, with the county reimbursing 50 percent of the cost up to $1 million. The contract with Duncan allows 164 days for completion, and documents outlining the projected construction timeline are available for review at city hall.
Shearon stated his pride for the city and the efforts made by many people in seeing the job done and funded. He said he was thankful to everyone who had helped get the project organized and underway.
Shaughnessy let his sympathetic nature show, saying, “This is going to be hard for me.” He became visibly emotional as he looked skyward, thanking the late Nora Idso, former city clerk, for all the effort she put forward during her tenure to make the city pier project a reality.