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Date of Issue: April 21, 2005

City gives Tidemark the basin boot

The reorganized Tidemark hotel/condominium/marina project in Holmes Beach will have to negotiate a new lease for the marina basin from the city commission. And this time around, "$100 a year" won't be enough, said City Commissioner Roger Lutz.

"It's a pretty sweet deal for them. We get $100 a year and they are going to rent slips for $500 a month," Lutz said at the April 12 city commission meeting.

It's not a sweet deal any longer.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff told commissioners that because of the bankruptcy, Tidemark is in default on the lease and it's up to the commission to reinstate the current lease or decide to negotiate a new lease. The commission sent a notice to Tidemark partner Nick Easterling last July that it was in default because of bankruptcy.

"Terminate the lease, then negotiate," said Lutz.

Mayor Carol Whitmore noted that after reviewing a just-completed study of possible traffic calming measures along Marina Drive by the boat basin, Tidemark representatives wanted to talk to the city about helping pay for the project.

"That's big-hearted," said Lutz. "But they want us to build a road so they can have a view. Let's look at the whole picture and take our docks back. We can make our streets as safe as possible, we just don't have to give away our marina."

Commissioners agreed and voted unanimously to terminate the city's lease of the boat basin to Tidemark.

Key Royale Bridge

Ed Ponce of the Florida Department of Transportation, along with other DOT representatives, gave the commission an update on the progress of construction plans for a new Key Royale Bridge.

Ponce said the start of construction is "on schedule" to begin in 2006 and should be completed by the end of the year. The contractor will be selected in January 2006, and will probably have 180 to 210 days to complete the project.

The bridge will remain open during construction, he noted, but at times vehicle traffic will be limited to one-way in one lane. "We'll build half of the bridge first, then build the other half," he said.

He also confirmed that the current bridge is "structurally sound."

A new environmental impact statement will be done as the previous statement was completed in 1996 when the DOT first proposed a new bridge.

Resident Joan Perry said the city has been waiting 10 years for a bridge and "really got screwed" by the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization, which year-after-year shelved the project from its budget.

After the last MPO decision pushed construction and funding into the 2008-09 fiscal year, the city opted for a DOT program that allows the city to pay the estimated $1.3 million construction cost now to get the project done, but get reimbursed in a future DOT budget.

Ponce and his team will return to the commission for another update prior to the start of construction.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved a new contract with Waste Management Inc. for trash hauling and garbage collection service. The new contract, which calls for a slight increase in basic service, will take effect June 1.

Lindahl lawsuit

Petruff will research title and institute a new survey for the canal bottom along the 72nd Street canal after city resident Steve Lindahl added the city as a defendant in his lawsuit against William McCaleb and others over construction of a boat dock at that location. The city had issued a permit for the construction.

Lindahl now claims to have been given a quit claim deed which is "surprisingly" for the exact lot where the dock was built, she said.

"If a quit claim deed can be done here, it can be done on other canals," Petruff observed, adding that although "anyone" can quit claim property, that does not necessarily prove ownership.

The research would also involve a new survey of the two plats that show where the canal and lot are located.

White Street parking

Whitmore said she'd had several complaints from residents along White Street about parking by surfers on that street.

She said she just wanted to bring it to the commission's attention, although parking is allowed on that street and surfers have been using that location for the past 50 years.

Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger noted the city would have a problem eliminating those designated parking spaces because they're needed to meet the city's public parking requirement for beach renourishment.

In other business, Bohnenberger said he's trying to organize a campaign to help push a law through the Florida Legislature halting the state from selling Social Security numbers to private business, as it has done in the past. Unfortunately, he said, the bill has been stalled in a committee headed by Rep. Jeff Kottkamp of Coral Gables for "unknown reasons."

Whitmore reported that the bids received for trolley shelters were too high compared with the budgeted amount and she and the city staff will reconsider the criteria before issuing a new request for bid.

She also noted that Longboat Key will begin its beach renourishment project shortly at a cost of $21 million, all paid by town taxpayers. By contrast, the emergency beach renourishment project for Anna Maria Island planned this summer will cost Holmes Beach taxpayers nothing.

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