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Date of Issue: June 10, 2009

County seeks to expedite pier demo

6-10-09/county-pier.jpg
Diagrams of the proposed new pier at Manatee Public Beach. If funds allow, the pier would be extended to 400 feet rather than the 300 feet indicated in the diagrams. Islander Image: Manatee County

Manatee County is working with Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and state agencies to negotiate a plan to expedite the demolition of the deteriorated Manatee Public Beach Pier.

County officials learned months ago that the pier, constructed in 1990, had deteriorated to a point where it needed to be demolished.

Work has been ongoing to secure permits for the demolition, as well as to prepare to build a 300-foot to 400-foot replacement pier.

County commissioners learned June 2 from Coastal Planning and Engineering consultant Rick Spadoni and county natural resources department director Charlie Hunsicker of a hiccup in efforts to speedily remove the problem pier.

“It’s in such bad condition it cannot be salvaged,” Spadoni said.

Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the lead permitting agency on the project, are concerned about work taking place during sea turtle nesting season.

However, AMITW, which collects data on nesting turtles on the Island, reports that only five nests have been found within 300 feet of the pier during the past 10 years.

Spadoni said that information, along with AMITW executive director Suzi Fox’s partnership in the project, could help the county secure a permit for demolition this summer.

Spadoni said he told Fox that contractors would not conduct any work at night and that no equipment would be left on the beach overnight to interfere with nesting.

The DEP, he said, indicated it would defer to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on the issue.

“We’re working with FWC,” Spadoni said, adding that he thought the county had found “someone sympathetic” within the agency.

“I won’t promise anything because I never know what’s going to come out of that sausage grinder,” Spadoni said, but he added he is optimistic.

Once the state issues a permit for the demolition, work can begin and would take about a month, he said.

The estimated cost of demolition, based on three bids, is about $250,000, which is less than the county originally budgeted.

The $200,000 savings, Hunsicker recommended and the commissioners seemed to agree, could be put toward extending the new pier by 100 feet to 400 feet.

Hunsicker said a longer pier could provide better fishing.

The existing structure was not built as a fishing pier but rather to control erosion.

Spadoni said the county also wants to expedite the permitting process for the construction of a new pier.

Construction would take about six months “at least,” he added.

Commissioner Donna Hayes said she felt doubtful the new pier would be in place for the 2009-10 tourist season on the Island.

Spadoni replied, “Possibly the later part of the season.”

The total cost of the project is about $1.5 million.

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