County wavers on 700-foot beach pier
Once the pier at Manatee Public Beach is demolished in December, odds are slim that funding will be available for a longer pier, according to Manatee County natural resources department director Charlie Hunsicker.
Hunsicker said the county is still on track to create a reconstructed pier over the footprint of the original, and the county is working toward a permit release date of May or June 2010.
Hunsicker said improvements would include railings, turtle-friendly lighting, and a wood center deck with a concrete outbound walkway.
The Manatee Public Beach pier, at 312 feet, is the shortest on Florida’s west coast. The county is considering replacing the pier to a length of 700 feet, the same length as the popular Venice Municipal Pier.
It would cost the county $1.5 million to replace the pier, and an additional $1 million if the pier were lengthened.
But the Tourist Development Council reported last week that funding was unavailable, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Not everyone is in favor of a longer pier.
“I think, personally, it would take away character of the Island if you go longer,” said County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, former mayor of Holmes Beach. “I’m also worried about the coral reefs out there.”
Hunsicker said there is little public funding available.
“The problem is insufficient amenities associated with pier expansion,” Hunsicker said, “to compete against other applicants who use Florida development recreational assistant grants.”
Jim Brady, owner of the Surf Shop, said a longer pier would not impact surfing.
“A lot of people surf around the pier in St. Pete and Venice, which are the same types of piers, and the pier kind of blocks the wind when it’s windy,” Brady said. “I think they should get it done just for the fact that tourists like it.”