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Date of Issue: February 11, 2009

DOT quashes Island cooperation effort

The Florida Department of Transportation has pulled the plug on an interlocal agreement between Anna Maria and Holmes Beach that would have aided Anna Maria’s effort to build a boardwalk at the city pier.

Anna Maria's transportation enhancement grant committee at its Feb. 2 meeting gave approval for the two cities to proceed with an agreement that would allow Anna Maria to plan and engineer the boardwalk using the Holmes Beach local area planning certification issued by the DOT.

But because Anna Maria is getting a federal grant administered by the DOT, the proposal had to gain DOT approval.

Mattick said Manon Lavoie of the DOT nixed the plan because LAP procedures have changed since Holmes Beach was certified and Holmes Beach now would have to defray some of the costs. Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger had approved the interlocal agreement as long as it didn't cost the city any money.

“Unfortunately, it would cost Holmes Beach some funds,” said Mattick, who previously praised the agreement with Holmes Beach as a sign of Island cooperation.

After speaking with Lavoie, Mattick said she met with Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford and they agreed to ask the Manatee County Board of Commissioners for use of the county’s planning and engineering department for the project’s LAP certification.

 “While we would love to work with Holmes Beach, it just doesn't seem feasible now,” said Mattick.

She said Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, whose district includes Anna Maria, will make the presentation to the county commission.

The TEG committee is proposing a boardwalk at the city pier to be funded by a $358,000 federal grant administered by the DOT. The funds are in the DOT’s 2010-11 budget.

In other business, Mattick said Manatee County Area Transit will only fund the two trolley shelters in the city, those that are planned for the city pier under the master boardwalk plan.

However, Mattick said that MCAT director Ralf Hesseler said that if the city can “prove usage” at other trolley stop locations, MCAT might fund construction of those shelters.

The federal funds have to be used for new projects in the city's business district on Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue. The grant cannot be used to enhance existing structures such as the city pier, as some people have suggested.

Mattick anticipates that a boardwalk can be built for under $100,000, leaving the committee with funds for landscaping and other enhancement projects in the business district.