Anna Maria declares city pier ‘totally destroyed’

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Inspectors from Ayres Associates survey damages at the Anna Maria City Pier Sept. 15. Islander Photos: Bianca Benedí

The damage to the Anna Maria City Pier is far worse than originally anticipated. It may be closed more than a year.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy has declared the pier “totally destroyed” per the terms of the lease agreement with Mario Schoenfelder after an initial assessment conducted by Ayres Associates, a Tampa-based engineering firm.

Ayres’s report found that the structure is in bad shape after the passing blow Sept. 10-11 by Hurricane Irma.

Irma ripped off decking along the back and sides of the restaurant, as well as a boat docking area on the outer edge of the walkway near the restaurant. It also shredded some roofing on the restaurant and tore the roof from the bait shop.

The report found multiple stringers and beams had shifted and no longer provide walkway support. It also found shifted or missing pilings that are causing portions of the walkway to sag.

Ayres Associates also found that one air conditioner is broken and fell onto its side, holes and leaks had developed in the ceiling of the restaurant, the potable water line is broken, and the water line for the fire suppression system was cracked — but repaired.

Ayres employees fixed the fire sprinkler line when it was discovered Sept. 15.

The report recommends “immediate closure of the facility until … appropriate repairs are made,” adding that the firm anticipates a timeline of 12 or more months to complete the necessary repairs.

According to the terms of the city’s pier lease with Schoenfelder, “total destruction” of the pier is defined as damage which is not “reasonably capable of being repaired within 120 days.”

The lease requires the tenant to maintain insurance valued at no less than $2 million to protect against property damage.

But the city first has to calculate the cost of the repairs.

The lease also states in the event of total destruction, the landlord and tenant must mutually agree that repairing it is financially and physically viable.

City clerk LeAnne Addy said there was “no question” the city would rebuild the pier, pointing out it has long been a top attraction for visitors.

However, she said, it is still “way too early to come up with an estimate” for the cost to repair the pier.

Per the terms of the lease, Schoenfelder’s rent is $9,240 per month until December 2018, when it increases to $10,080. However, as long as the pier is unusable, the rent is suspended.

The restaurant will be closed for the duration of the repairs.

David Sork, general manager of the pier operations, said he has advised his 35 staff members to apply for unemployment, and is searching for ways to keep them solvent for the duration of the repairs.

Sork also said he’s hopeful the city can expedite the immediate infrastructure needs for public safety and allow the restaurant — which fared well through the storm — to reopen.

Murphy, Sork and the city commission are expected to attend an emergency meeting regarding the pier repairs — possibly including a phone conversation with Schoenfelder, who is in Germany, the morning of Sept. 25, after press time for The Islander.

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