Tag Archives: 01-22-2014

Beach renourishment on track, almost

Beach builders last week made progress on the shore of Anna Maria Island.

The work moved southward as planned, from 79th Street to the Manatee Public Beach in the 4000 block of Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

The renourishment was in high gear, if only for a short time, after Great Lakes Dredge and Dock again halted operations Jan. 19 because of possible impacts to its equipment from high winds and rough seas.

With good but chilly weather off and on again as cold fronts dropped across the Tampa Bay area, GLDD managed to renourish the shoreline from the 79th Street starting point to 38th Street, past the Manatee Public Beach, in about two weeks.

But Mother Nature is fickle.

Inclement weather forced GLDD to halt dredging Jan. 16-17, and the upcoming short-term forecasts do not appear to be encouraging.

Winds in the Gulf of Mexico Jan. 16 brought seas of 5 feet and higher. GLDD halts dredging when seas are higher than 4 feet in the Gulf because the waves and strong westerly winds can both break pumping lines and damage the dredge, a GLDD engineer said.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman Sirisha Rayaprolu said the Corps and GLDD are taking it “one day at a time.”

The Corps is supervising the current plan to place sand on the shore from 79th Street to Coquina Beach.

Rayaprolu said she would consult with GLDD engineers each day on whether dredging could safely resume.

“They did a good job making up for lost time,” Rayaprolu said of the GLDD effort since Jan. 1. “But we can’t risk damaging the dredge or the pipeline.”

If the weather improves and dredging resumes, Great Lakes can renourish 1,000 feet of beach per day and make up for lost days, she said. Weather permitting, GLDD works 24/7.

While dredging was halted, the company went to work on the shoreline, smoothing the added sand and ensuring equipment on the beach was secure and unharmed by the high winds, Rayaprolu added.

With good weather, dredging will resume and GLDD could reach Bradenton Beach within a few days, she said.

The GLDD contract with the Corps calls for the 79th Street-to-Coquina Beach project to finish within 60 days of the Dec. 20 start, which puts the finish line at Feb. 18.

The current project is funded with federal, state and county money at a cost of $12 million. The project ends at Coquina Beach, then a second renourishment project funded solely by state and county money begins. GLDD will also renourish Coquina Beach at an estimated cost of $3 million.

The Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department will head Coquina Beach renourishment, said director Charlie Hunsicker. Coastal Planning and Engineering has been hired to also supervise the Coquina operation.

Anna Maria Island beaches have been renourished about every 10 years since the first renourishment in 1992. A second project began in 2002.

An emergency renourishment project in 2005 by the Corps ended unfinished and abruptly near Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach. The Corps said the contractor, which was not GLDD, had failed to meet the standards required in the contract.

Great Lakes performed the 1992 and 2002 renourishments.

Anna Maria beaches are not included in the present project, according to Hunsicker, because when marine engineers surveyed the north end, including Bean Point, they found it “healthy and in good shape.”

When all renourishment is completed, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said Manatee County plans to replace the decrepit groins at Cortez Beach with new structures that will hold sand in place while allowing seawater to flow through them.

Anna Maria Elementary considers adding sixth-grade

Anna Maria Elementary School fifth-graders may not need to look off the island for middle school next year.

Administrators at the school are gauging interest from AME students and parents concerning adding sixth-grade.

“There is a lot of evidence that K-8 schools and schools that keep students in that setting past the fifth-grade are beneficial for those students,” said principal Dave Marshall.

Marshall was approached by Diana Greene, deputy superintendent of instruction of Manatee County school district about the idea, which was discussed at the AME School Advisory Council meeting Jan. 13.

On Jan. 14, students were sent home with a survey to gauge the interest of parents and primary caregivers about the extra grade. Survey results were collected Jan. 17.

“We’re looking for 60 percent of parents who took the survey to say they’re interested in learning more about it. Of the survey results that have been turned in, it looks like we’ll make that,” Marshall said.

Marshall said it’s a four-step process. The survey, the second step, will lead to an information night for parents. It’s at that point “parents would consider it more seriously,” he said.

The timeline for a decision is unclear. However the school district starts the allocation process for funding for 2014-15 in March or April. At that point, AME will need to have an estimate of how many of students would stay, and the number of those who would prefer to go to middle school off the island.

Marshall said he’s not sure why AME was approached with the idea, but a school board member had suggested it.

AME is not the first elementary school in the county to be approached with idea of adding a grade. And if it does, will not be the first school to add higher grades. Palm View Elementary in Palmetto, Tara Elementary in Bradenton and Myakka City Elementary in Myakka have added grades.

“In the last two years we’ve seen other schools in the county expand,” Marshall said.

For now, it’s all up for discussion at AME. “We have the space, we have three rooms available. Now, we’re really looking at what would be beneficial for the students. The parents will decide. For now it’s moving forward and we’ll see what happens,” Marshall said.

Fire sends sailboat to the bottom of Sarasota Bay

At about 12:38 a.m. Jan. 12 a Bradenton Beach Police Department officer was on routine patrol on Bayside Drive when he observed a boat on fire.

The boat was moored in Sarasota Bay to the south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The officer contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, but according to BBPD Det. Sgt. Lenard Diaz, “by the time the Coast Guard arrived there was nothing they could do.”

Diaz said several agencies were notified of the fire, but nobody had a vessel in the area equipped with the specific type of nozzle used to extinguish boat fires on open water.

“Nobody was able to put the fire out and the boat sank,” said Diaz.

Diaz said there was a witness, but because the investigation is ongoing he did not release a name. However, he did disclose that the witness told him he saw what he thought was a candle burning as he was rowing a dinghy toward shore. The witness then decided to stop to check on the person known to stay on the boat.

“When he got there, he opened the door to the cabin and there was a backdraft effect of the air hitting what we believe may have been a lit Sterno can, which will emit fumes in an enclosed area,” said Diaz.

Video surveillance of what some people refer to as the mooring field, though it is not an official mooring field, shows a small light emitting from the boat and then a sudden ball of fire.

The witness managed to escape without injury, according to Diaz, who said the man jumped into the bay and was rescued by nearby boaters.

According to Police Chief Sam Speciale, a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office dive team responded due to initial concerns that someone had gone into the water.

The sailboat continued to be engulfed by flames and, as it burned, the fire spread to the anchor ropes, which freed the burning vessel.

It began to drift to the east and made contact with another boat, causing some exterior fire damage. Diaz said other boaters managed to separate the two vessels.

“Otherwise, I don’t think there is any doubt that both boats would have burned and sank,” he said.

Diaz said the sunken vessel is a hazard and police are attempting to contact the owner to have it removed. There is some question that the boat may have in the process of changing hands. Diaz said if money was exchanged, then it could become the new owner’s responsibility.

In the meantime, Diaz said the fire is being considered suspicious.

“It’s definitely not clear if it was intentional or an accident,” said Diaz. “But for now, the lesson is that any time you are going to have a heating device on a boat, it should be approved by the Coast Guard. Don’t use candles and certainly don’t use Sterno or you can see the result of what can happen.”

Mayors broach issue of homeless population on AMI

If you’re looking for a place to sleep on Anna Maria Island, one location to check out is behind the dumpster at the Anna Maria City Pier.

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn told members of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials she and staff recently discovered someone has been sleeping behind the pier dumpster.

Speaking at the Jan. 15 meeting, SueLynn said public works department employees also found someone has been sleeping alongside a city maintenance shed.

“And we’ve discovered seven homeless people in Bradenton Beach,” said Mayor Bill Shearon, adding that homeless people more often present issues for officials in Bradenton and Sarasota.

Shearon added that Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale told him seven people in the city have been identified the past few weeks as homeless and panhandlers.

He suggested studying panhandling and homeless ordinances for inconsistencies.

“It’s something to keep in mind,” SueLynn said.

She then delivered a legislative report, saying that Florida Senate Bill 356, which repeals HB 883 enacted in July 2012, has passed a Senate committee.

The bill must be approved by the full Senate when its session begins in March, then be heard and pass in the House of Representatives, where SueLynn said she expects opposition.

HB 883 provides Florida property owners broad leverage to their rent homes. Local governments were largely prohibited from enacting legislation to govern or limit the vacation rental industry — particularly in zoning districts — after HB 883 became effective July 1, 2012.

Shearon also updated members on beach renourishment, which has been hampered by the winter weather. With good weather, he expects the project to reach Bradenton Beach within the week.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, who attended the meeting, said the county saved $3 million-$4 million in mobilization costs by having Great Lakes Dredge and Dock complete two renourishment projects, one after the other.

The present project, funded by federal, state and county money will finish at Coquina Beach. The second project, which renourishes Coquina Beach, will be paid with state and county money, he said.

Chappie said Coquina Beach renourishment should be finished by the end of March or early April.

West Manatee Fire Rescue deputy Chief Brett Pollock attended the meeting to ask officials for help spreading the word about the WMFR Citizen’s Fire Academy beginning Feb. 18.

The class is open to any member of the public. Attendees also will attend a firefighting demonstration and learn how to handle firefighting equipment.

Anyone wishing to enroll can call 941-761-1555 for more information, Pollock said.

Pollock said this is the third year WMFR has presented the academy.

The next BIEO meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Mainsail-Holmes Beach settlement agreement delayed — again

More delays, more questions, more concerns. Mainsail Lodge appears to mired in more delays.

It appeared in December that the Holmes Beach City Commission was close to finalizing a settlement agreement with the Mainsail Lodge development team that would pave the way for a new site plan submission for lodging and restaurant facilities near the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives.

City attorney Patricia Petruff reminded commissioners of the changes they agreed to in December and presented an updated draft of a settlement agreement.

“At some point, it’s appropriate for you to make a decision and have something tendered to the applicant on what your final offer is for settlement,” said Petruff.

But the majority of the commission that voted to revoke Mainsail’s site plan in March continued to find issues with the agreement at their Jan. 14 city commission meeting.

Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said a new conceptual site plan shows a significant increase in the width of one of the buildings that was not part of the mediation terms that took place in June and September 2013 — an action launched by Mainsail as a prerequisite to litigation following the commission’s site plan revocation.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said Mainsail needs to clarify for what purposes the space would be used, but building official Tom O’Brien said the reconfiguration is still within the city’s legal requirements.

“I have a concern with this whole discussion,” said O’Brien. “There is nothing in our code that would prohibit this configuration. It’s typical of almost every building on Gulf Drive.”

Titsworth said that would be true if the configuration did not encroach on a setback, which, she said, this does.

Titsworth said it was an issue that needed clarification at the next meeting and moved on to language that states there can be no residential structures within 50 feet of Lance Spotts’ property on Sunrise Lane.

Titsworth said that language opens the door to build a tiki bar if the developer wants, and asked the language be changed to “no structures” from “no residential structures.”

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said that language would mean a buffer wall between the development and a residential neighbor — required by the settlement — could not be constructed. Petruff suggested “no structures except for the 6-foot buffering wall,” which seemed to gain a consensus.

Grossman said he’s concerned with one of the buildings that encroaches on the peninsula that juts into the canal. He wanted a stipulation put in the agreement that the developer will do everything possible to maximize the view of the bay from Marina Drive.

Zaccagnino said it appeared his fellow commissioners may be inviting litigation by asking for more concessions.

“It seems to me that at every meeting, we are adding more and more demands. I think the percentages of (Mainsail) agreeing gets less and less and then we’ll get the litigation,” which, he said, is what “none of us wants.”

Grossman said he was making a suggestion, not a demand and, regardless, the Mainsail project has to be handled with due diligence.

“This is something we will have to live with for the rest of Holmes Beach’s life,” he said.

Mayor Carmel Monti also spoke up on the commission’s intent at this point.

“I’m getting mixed signals on whether or not we want to kick the can down the street and get a settlement agreement,” he said. “I’ve heard from the other side and they are OK with the agreement. If we aren’t, then what specifically are the issues?”

The primary issue that stalled progress was the expansion of one of the buildings and how it impacted parking and traffic flow not agreed to during mediation, according to Titsworth.

Until that is clarified, she said there was not an exact number to put into the agreement.

No further action was taken by the commission.

200-home proposal for Long Bar Pointe gets early nod

Island residents — Holmes Beach in particular — know a little something about development plans proposed more than 10 years ago that return to make new headlines.

That’s the case for a site-plan proposal approved Jan. 16 by the Manatee County Planning Commission for the initial phase of what is expected to be a gated residential community at Long Bar Pointe, situated across Sarasota Bay from the historic fishing village of Cortez.

The first 200 single-family homes were brought before the planning commission after developers Larry Lieberman and Carlos Beruff squared off against stiff environmentalists opposed to a project that would have lowered the number of homes proposed in the early 2000s, but increased density with commercial stores, multi-story residential homes, a hotel- convention center and a dredged canal to a boat basin.

The developers backed away from that concept when it became clear in August 2013 that the Manatee County Board of Commissioners would not approve a map amendment request to make way for the possible project expansion if it included the boat basin.

Beruff previously said he hoped the project would move forward without the marina. Another land-use hearing was planned, but never took place because the developers withdrew their application, noting they would likely go forward with the original residential concept.

The planning commission recommended approval of the splintered project that will transform a small section of the overall 520-plus acres. The plan includes developing 61 acres of Long Bar Pointe into single-family homes, with developers retaining rights to pursue about 1,200 more homes on future site-plan submissions.

The approval didn’t come without objections, although the intensity of the objections did not appear to be as severe as the summer protests and rallies that ultimately won an environmental victory in stopping the amended project.

Some of those protesters opposed the amended proposal and wanted the developers to return to the originally approved residential proposal. Former Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann was among them.

Von Hahmann led a protest rally at the county administration building this past summer with that very intention. Von Hahmann was on the commission when the original plans were approved and said that the past commission worked hard to ensure the plan was environmentally sound.

The planning commission is an advisory board to the board of commissioners and its recommendation for approval will come before the county commissioners for a decision at a later date.

Islander Chalk Festival Photos by Linda Heim

Thanks to many photo contributors and the super imagery created on Pine Avenue Jan. 18-19 for the Anna Maria Chalk Festival, there are more — lots more photos and chalk fun to be viewed online. Check both the Islander Facebook link at www.islander.org, and Facebook.com/annamariachalkfestival.

 

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Alanna Belfiore 9 of Bradenton, Sage Welch 8 of Holmes Beach, and Rain Cooper 10 of Cortez left to right

 

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AMI Privateer 4 year old Will of Sarasota works on his chalk square (1)

 

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Calendar – 01-22-2014

Wednesday, Jan. 22

2 p.m. — Lifelong Learning Academy program on inventions and inventors, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

6 p.m. — Home-brewing workshop, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

6:03 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Thursday, Jan. 23

10 p.m. — Living your strengths workshop, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

2 p.m. — Alzheimer’s memory screenings, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

6:04 p.m. — Official sunset time.

8 p.m. — “Delval Divas” opening night performance, Island Players theater, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Fee applies. Information: 941-778-5755.

 

Friday, Jan. 24

2 p.m. — Friends lecture, Anna Maria Island Historical Society representatives, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

5-7 p.m. — Annie Silver Community Center dinner of roast pork, mashed potatoes and dessert, 103 23rd St., Bradenton Beach. Fee applies. Information: 941-778-3580.

6:05 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Saturday, Jan. 25

10:30 a.m. — Island Gallery West jewelry-making demonstration, 5368 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6648.

5 p.m. — St. Bernard Catholic Church spaghetti dinner, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach. Fee applies. Information: 941-778-4769.

5-10 p.m. — Bridge Street Rock ‘n’ Roll Night, 107 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach. Information: 215-906-0668.

6:06 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Sunday, Jan. 26

2 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra Bach and Vivaldi concert, CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Fee applies. Information: 941-795-2370.

3 p.m. — Noah Waddell piano concert, Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. Information: 941-387-0202.

6:06 p.m. — Official sunset time.

7:30 p.m. — Island Players auditions for “Mama Won’t Fly,” 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-5755.

 

Monday, Jan. 27

6:07 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 28

6:08 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Wednesday, Jan. 29

6:09 p.m. — Official sunset time.

Coming up

• Feb. 1, Friends of the Island Library Book Sale, Holmes Beach.

• Feb. 15-16, 32nd annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, Cortez.

 

Save the date

• Feb. 8, Anna Maria Island Privateers Thieves Market, Anna Maria.

• Feb. 8, Magic of Manatee Sweet Adelines Chorus concert, Bradenton.

• Feb. 21, Annie Silver Community Center spaghetti dinner, Bradenton Beach.

• March 1, Anna Maria Island Historical Society Heritage Day, Anna Maria.

• March 8-9, Anna Maria Island Art League Springfest, Holmes Beach.

• March 15, Anna Maria Island Community Center Tour of Homes, islandwide.

• April 5, Bradenton Marauders’ first home game, Bradenton.

 

AME Calendar

Thursday, Jan. 23, report cards.

Thursday, Jan. 23, third-,fourth- and fifth-grade bird watching on the beach with Coastal Crusaders.

Tuesday, Jan. 28, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade watercolor painting with Lucinda Hathaway with Coastal Crusaders.

5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, PTO dinner and talent show.

9:15-11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 31, second-grade field trip to Durante Park.

1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, early release.

6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, father-daughter dance.

        AME is at 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. For more information, call 941-708-5525.

 

Calendar announcements

Send calendar announcements to calendar@islander.org. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via email and phone. The deadline for submissions is the Wednesday a week before publication. High-resolution photographs welcome.