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Date of Issue: May 13, 2009

Harbor plan goes to final draft

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A harbor management plan, part of a broader recreational boating master plan, is due in June. The plan will provide for a mooring field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A harbor management plan for Bradenton Beach is now being worked into a final draft.

An advisory committee finished its preliminary work on the document during a meeting May 5 at city hall.

The harbor management plan, part of a larger master plan for recreational boating in the city, details the rules and regulations for the mooring field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The document is modeled on St. Augustine’s harbor management plan.

Members of the advisory committee met with Police Chief Sam Speciale, city project/program manager Lisa Maria Phillips and plan consultants Sue Thompson and Dianne Rosensweig to discuss lingering issues.

The group had a number of questions for Speciale about whether a harbormaster would enforce city ordinances or call in police.

Speciale suggested that the harbormaster might become a code enforcement officer and take on some responsibilities, but that his department and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers would enforce the law in the field.

Committee members also talked with Speciale about procedures in the event of a hurricane.

Speciale said boats could remain in the mooring field, but in an evacuation, boaters would be urged to leave.

“We’ll get the boat out. We’ll get the loudspeaker out” and urge people to evacuate, Speciale said.

And boaters who do not evacuate from the mooring field will be issued toe tags, just as residents who refuse to leave their houses are issued tags, he said.

“And that’s exactly what they do,” Phillips added.

Speciale also clarified for the committee the city’s current rule for business on boats. Boaters staying in the mooring field can operate businesses from the boats, but not within the mooring field.

The rule seemed to satisfy some committee members concerned that the city planned to prohibit charter operations or other boating businesses in the area.

“You just can’t conduct any type of business in the mooring field,” Speciale said.

“It’s recreation only, not commercial,” Phillips said.

In discussing renters’ rights and responsibilities, committee members reviewed with Phillips the city’s motive for establishing the mooring field.

“It is our intent to have economic development as a result of this,” Phillips said, adding that the city wants to encourage vacationing boaters and liveaboards to stop in Bradenton Beach waters and spend money on the Island.

The goal, Phillips stressed, is not to provide wet storage for local boaters at a cheaper rate than marinas.

The city hopes to fund construction of the mooring field with a state recreational boating grant from the FWC.

The grant, which would require funds from the city, would provide for the design, engineering and installation of the mooring field, including mooring tackle, and a pump-out station for waste disposal. The mooring field work is estimated at $126,000 and the pump-out station estimated at $100,000.

Phillips estimated the city’s “hard cash” contribution at about $56,500, adding that the city also would provide “in-kind” contributions.

The city’s contribution would be built into the capital improvements plan and would need to be approved through the budget process.