Not so fast.
Holmes Beach Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said March 1 she’s heard of no requests to replace the Manatee Public Beach pier.
Resident Beverly Neville refuted Titsworth’s claim at the March 27 meeting as she pleaded for commissioners to involve the public in determining whether to rebuild the structure.
“Tonight, I am asking you to actually survey your constituents to see what Holmes Beach voters would like,” Neville said. “Please, do everything you can to ensure a new pier is given back to all county taxpayers, residents and visitors.”
Neville said few people in Holmes Beach, if any, knew the city commissioners would reject rebuilding the pier.
“I disagree there is lack of interest,” Neville said. “Since 2010, I have written many letters to Manatee County commissioners, sometimes appearing before them, to express how much a pier would mean to everyone in this area.”
The pier, damaged by storms and a lack of maintenance, was demolished in 2009 at a cost of $1.44 million.
Neville reminded Holmes Beach commissioners that residents had been promised the pier would be rebuilt as soon as funding became available by former County Commissioner John Chappie and County Commissioner Carol Whitmore.
“I believed them,” Neville said.
Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor and commissioner, still supports rebuilding the pier. Chappie, now the Bradenton Beach mayor, is no longer on the county commission.
Responding to an inquiry from the Manatee County Commission, the Holmes Beach City Commission briefly considered the matter March 1 after Whitmore offered support in finding funding, and then unanimously discarded rebuilding the once-popular pier.
Concerns cited include the cost to build and maintain the structure, its vulnerability to storms and the likelihood it would add to parking and traffic issues.
Rebuilding the pier would cost between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, according to 2013 estimates.
The Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted to replace the pier, but the 2010 county permit to rebuild the structure has expired.
The pier was on a county-maintained beach. It is not a city beach, Neville reminded the commission.
“There’s no reason five people serving on the Holmes Beach City Commission should determine what is best for all Manatee County residents and visitors,” Neville said. “That is why our county voters elected seven responsible county commissioners to represent the people of Manatee County to make this decision.”
The county installed the pier in the 1960s to help stem beach erosion.
Neville said the pier used to be a “jewel” in Holmes Beach — and could be again.
“I loved standing at the end of the pier facing west while I experienced Mother Nature at her finest,” Neville said.
There was no immediate response from the commission to Neville’s request during public comment.