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Date of Issue: June 02, 2005

Tidemark increases annual lease payments by 1,110 percent

In a offer that brought a smile to Holmes Beach City Commissioner Roger Lutz, developers of the Tidemark hotel/condominium/marina project in Holmes Beach offered to raise their annual lease payments for the city-owned portion of the boat basin along Marina Drive from $100 to $11,200, an increase of 1,110 percent.

Attorney Bob Greene, representing Reliance-Tidemark LLC, owners of the Tidemark property, told the city commission at its May 24 meeting that the lease would cover 22 boat slips that would utilize city property for access. The remaining 40 boat slips would be on Tidemark property.

Lutz, who had said three months ago that he would not accept another $100-per-year lease from Tidemark, said straight-faced that the offer "is a start."

Greene also presented a copy of Tidemark’s title insurance showing evidence that it owns the submerged land in the boat basin. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection "clearly states" that it is not state-owned submerged bottom lands, he said. Lutz had previously requested that Tidemark provide evidence it actually owns the bottom land.

Lutz also suggested that Tidemark provide slips for transient boaters who might want to dock at the marina to walk around the downtown area or visit one of the many restaurants in the immediate area.

Greene said that after the first 40 slips are sold to the condominium owners, there will be an opportunity to set aside some slips for transient boaters. One slip at the marina will be available for law enforcement patrol vessels, he added.

Greene will now prepare a formal lease agreement and have City Attorney Patricia Petruff review the document and return it to the city commission for discussion and adoption.

"It’s not a bad start," quipped Lutz of the $11,200- per-year offer.

Tidemark’s original lease was voided by the city commission after the company developing the property went into bankruptcy. The property has since been sold to Reliance-Tidemark LLC, headed by Connecticut real estate developer Ken Dardis.

Traffic calming

Police Chief Jay Romine gave commissioners an overview of traffic calming efforts for the Marina Drive-Gulf Drive intersection and north along Marina Drive to 56th Street.

"But don’t call it ‘traffic calming,’" he said, call it ‘street-scaping.’"

The city "needs to take a hard look" at the traffic problems in the area as the roads were not designed to carry the current vehicle loads.

"Our goal is to make the area pedestrian-friendly and more attractive," he said.

Of particular concern are the crosswalks and visibility in the area, but he’s not in favor of speed bumps or reducing speed limits.

"We could go to lighted crosswalks" to reduce the potential for a pedestrian-vehicle accident in the area, "but you can’t police common sense," he observed. Fluorescent stripes would be a lot cheaper and could be done quicker, he suggested.

"There are some quick-fixes," he said, but the overall project, including landscaping, could cost the city up to $1 million.

Presently, he’s waiting on a report from Banks Engineering on the cost to do a traffic study and prepare the engineering for a "street-scaping" plan.

Mayor Carol Whitmore said the city might be able to obtain some grants for the project, but private businesses such as the planned Tidemark hotel/marina/condominium have shown an interest in providing some financial assistance.

The Holmes family, owners of the Island Shopping Center, have also expressed an interest in assisting the city with the project, Whitmore said, and she’ll contact the S&S Plaza owners to see if they are also willing to get involved.

Romine said he’ll bring back the Banks Engineering report to the commission once it’s completed.

"This issue has been around a lot longer than the Tidemark," he noted. "We could easily get overwhelmed."

Sunrise boat docks

Petruff said that if commissioners have no further changes, she’s ready to present the ordinance governing the city’s lease of dock space in the Sunrise subdivision boat basin at the commission’s June 14 meeting.

The ordinance governing the boat docks along the T-end canals should be ready immediately after the commission deals with Sunrise, Petruff said.

The commission has been dealing with the Sunrise docks and canal issues for the past four years.

Following the collapse of some seawall sections in the Sunrise boat basin, the city learned that it owned the basin and accompanying seawalls and was obligated to repair the damage. At issue was ownership of the canals and seawalls and how the city can lease dock space to homeowners, while absolving the city of liability.

Consolidation

Commissioners gave consenus to Whitmore to continue discussions at the Coaliation of Barrier Island Elected Officials about Island consolidation, but Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger indicated he was against any consolidation that would not give Holmes Beach a majority on an Island governing board. The city, he noted, has about 5,000 people, more than Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach together.

Lutz, however, said that discussions now are just about a non-binding referendum to Island voters in the November 2006 election.

"Non-binding is non-binding. I say, let the Island vote."