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Date of Issue: October 05, 2006

Drainage solution creates drainage problem

am city pic
Saluting after-school care
Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn honored the Anna Maria Island Community Center at the Sept. 28 city commission meeting with a proclamation for after-school care. Accepting the proclamation were AMICC after-school care director April Jonatzke along with students, from left, Jazmin Rivera, Gabby Gallo, Emma Terry and Jake Parsons. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Two issues that have been around in Anna Maria since George Bean first homesteaded in the city more than 100 years ago are parking and drainage.

While they appear to be issues that can never be solved completely to everyone's satisfaction - Anna Maria is only four feet above sea level and has no beachfront for public parking - the city commission recently enacted a parking ordinance and has been moving forward with a capital improvements plan to complete some desperately needed drainage projects.

At the top of that list was the just-finished Gladiolus-North Shore Drive drainage project, which has apparently solved some of the long-standing problems with water run-off in that area.

At the same time, however, the solution may have resulted in a drainage problem at a nearby location.

North Shore resident Joan Dickinson told city commissioners at their Sept. 28 meeting that since completion of the project, her driveway floods after a rain and she's concerned that the water will one day back up into her house on North Shore Drive. That never happened before the Gladiolus-North Shore Drive project, she said.

Drainage in other areas has improved since the project was finished, "but not in my area," Dickinson added. "It's really worsened," she told commissioners and she'd like an "action plan" to solve the issue.

Tom Turner, who also lives on North Shore Drive, said that the city engineering firm of Baskerville-Donovan Inc. didn't realize it needed a smaller pipe in the design to match an existing pipe BDI found under the road. A smaller pipe will create more pressure to drain water by Dickinson's house, he said, and suggested a "cattle gate" for the drainage and a pipe to match the pre-existing one.

Sancha Adye of North Shore Drive agreed with Dickinson. She's never had a drainage problem before the swales were constructed for the recent project.

Mayor SueLynn agreed there is a problem and she'll have BDI engineers come out and meet with Dickinson and others to find a solution. But Tom Wilcox, who was BDI's engineering representative to the city for three years, has left the firm and there is presently a transition period for BDI engineer Jerry Naroni to get "up to speed" on Anna Maria problems.

"I've been talking to Wilcox and Naroni on a daily basis," the mayor said, and they are aware of Dickinson's issue.

She said she'd have a full report for commissioners at their Oct. 26 meeting, including solutions and a timetable.

The discussion of BDI came after the commission approved a line-item transfer of some $31,000 in payments to BDI that the company admittedly forgot to bill the city for during the preceding year.

Fran Barford of South Bay Boulevard was concerned that the city had just paid BDI for its error, while BDI itself had an error in the drainage project.

"I wish we could hold BDI accountable," she said.

Rest assured, the city will, SueLynn maintained.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said that while BDI went with the "best available information" before starting the Gladiolus-North Shore Drive project, "That's not an excuse."

He suggested, however, that before any future drainage projects begin, BDI and the city survey the site for existing underground pipes. "We may find similar situations," he noted.

Good idea, said the mayor, adding that she would have BDI correct the drainage problem by Dickinson's residence and have a report for the commission within the next four weeks.

In other business, the commission approved an ordinance extending the current moratorium on new construction seaward of the coastal construction control line until March 1, 2007, while it prepares a coastal overlay district ordinance.

The commission also approved a resolution to open a line-of-credit account with Wachovia Bank for up to $1.3 million. The money will be used for capital improvement projects.

Commissioners also approved the 2006-07 contract with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for city law enforcement. The $614,000 contract represents the amount allocated for MCSO in the city's recently enacted 2006-07 budget.

The mayor noted that while Anna Maria is paying $614,000 for law enforcement, Holmes Beach, which has its own police department, has budgeted $1.8 million in its 2006-07 budget for law enforcement.

An ordinance establishing a permit procedure for the construction of fences within a public utility easement passed its first reading unanimously, but SueLynn said the commission should ensure the wording has "total clarity" that this is only for fences in a public easement.

"I just hope this is no 'Pandora's Box,'" she said.

Commission Chairman John Quam said he would convey commission concerns about the wording to city attorney Jim Dye and "thoroughly review" Dye's revisions at the Oct. 26 public hearing.