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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Commission approves drainage projects

With the Island spotlight on outrageous behavior shifting like beach sand from Anna Maria to Bradenton Beach, city commissioners in Anna Maria accomplished something at their Dec. 18 meeting.

The commission actually listened to advice from its capital improvements advisory committee and city engineers and approved four "small" drainage improvement projects at a cost totalling about $25,000.

Commission approval gives Baskerville-Donovan Inc., the city's engineering firm, authority to prepare the project specifications and receive bids. The commission will have final approval on the contractor before funds are authorized.

The four projects are a swale on Hammock Road, the Archer Way cul-de-sac, Rose Street drainage improvement and creating an alleyway swale from Crescent Drive to North Shore Drive.

Kurt Jensen of BDI told commissioners that these "smaller projects" had been recommended by the CIAC in its priority list submitted to the commission in November, and all the projects could be done without a Southwest Florida Water Management District permit.

The four projects can be funded from the existing budget.

In November, the commission had quashed a line of credit that would have funded about $250,000 in capital improvement projects from the CIAC priority list, opting instead to do a limited number of projects from the approximately $70,000 for improvements remaining in the budget.

Commissioners also gave BDI authority to prepare the bid package for improvements to the humpback bridge on North Bay Boulevard and accompanying seawall, and the Crescent Drive bridge. The current budget has $138,000 for those improvements.

But the commission bogged down on approving a single "large" capital improvements project to fund this year.

Mayor SueLynn suggested the commission hold a joint meeting with the CIAC and BDI to "get together and talk about major capital improvement projects."

Commissioner Duke Miller, the commission's CIAC liaison, liked the idea. "Do we have enough information to decide on these projects tonight? I don't like stabbing in the dark until we've all gotten together" and discussed these issues.

Jensen agreed. "It's good to slow down now so you can speed up later. We need to share our knowledge with the new commissioners and get everyone up to speed."

The joint meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, at city hall.

Commissioners also received a report from Ed Barber & Associates on the scope of services for taking core samples from canal bottoms and testing those for composition and sediment. The CIAC had recommended the testing as the first step in a long process to eventually obtain permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to dredge the canals.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he was opposed to the project because it was not a priority, and considered it a waste of money until the results of the current Holmes Beach dredging project were available.

Jensen said that if the commission did not want to dredge the canals at some point in the future, there was no need to take samples.

"I'm not saying 'no,'" Woodland responded, but waiting a couple of years won't hurt. Jensen pointed out that obtaining core samples is just the first step in a very long process.

The core samples might even tell the city the canal bottoms and water quality are fine, he said.

Miller suggested that the commission get the results of the core samples first before making any decision to proceed.

Commission Chairperson John Quam noted funds for the testing have already been approved by the commission and commissioners agreed to wait for those results before discussing any future course of action.

Consent agenda
The consent agenda passed by a 3-2 vote, but not before Commissioners Linda Cramer and Carol Ann Magill questioned payment of $4,152 to Holmes Construction for work already completed.

The mayor said the money was for repairs to the public works building, and part of a $13,500 line item in the budget, but Cramer wanted to know where the three estimates were on the project.

SueLynn said Public Works Director George McKay should have those on file, but he was not at the meeting.

Cramer thought the procedure for spending any amount more than $2,500 was that the mayor would come before the commission with three estimates.

"I would feel better if we knew ahead of time of the three estimates and the scope of work," she said.

The mayor said it was her understanding that she did not need further authorization from the commission for expenditures that were already in the budget, just the three bids.

However, she said, she brought authorization for this payment to the commission because it was more than $2,500 and not a separate line item, just part of a total.

Former City Commissioner Jay Hill said that the policy of payments without commission authorization was reversed when he was on the commission from 2000 to 2002 and had not been changed by any commission resolution, as far as he was aware.

SueLynn said it was her understanding the policy had been changed verbally by the commission after Hill left, and she would research the issue.

Magill and Cramer voted against approving the consent agenda.

Arvida impact
The mayor said she would write a letter to the City of Bradenton that if it chooses to impose an impact fee on the planned 898-unit Arvida condominium project on Perico Island when it gets built, the three Island cities "need to be considered.

"Let's get our foot in the door because those people will turn right to the Island as much as they will turn left."

City hall improvements
SueLynn reported that when construction begins on repairing city hall, the city will likely have to rent a double-wide trailer to temporarily replace city hall while the improvements take place. Staff will be unable to use even a portion of city hall, including the rest rooms.

"We are looking at other options, however, and I'll bring the issue back to the commission in January."

In other business, the commission passed an ordinance allowing for the sale of take-out wines from currently licensed stores.

There being no further business, the commission adjourned.

"And we actually accomplished something tonight," concluded Miller, even if it was just four small drainage projects.