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Date of Issue: February 03, 2010

Boardwalk project faces concerns

Anna Maria City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick at the Jan. 28 commission meeting points toward the area in the city pier’s north parking lot where the Island trolley and delivery trucks will be able to park if a boardwalk is built according to the conceptual design on display in the commission chambers. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

A push by Anna Maria City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick to get a proposed boardwalk built at the city pier in time for the April 2011 Pier Centennial Festival might face some difficulty getting approval from other commissioners.

Commissioners, at their Jan. 28 meeting, appeared pleased with the overall concept, but Commission Chairman John Quam said he had reservations about parking.

The project is funded by an $860,000 federal grant administered by the Florida Department of Transportation, which will oversee the project.

Because of the time constraints — Mattick and the transportation enhancement grant committee want the boardwalk finished for the festival — the DOT has proposed a “design-and-build” project.

Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus said that means the commission and the public won’t be able to make any changes to the design once the project has been let out for bid.

He said the city was not going to approve a design for what will be built. The company selected for the project will design the boardwalk and accompanying amenities from suggestions made by the commission, TEG committee and DOT representatives, but will not present a final plan for approval.

“What you’re going to change, you’re going to have to change now. My fear is, until we see a design, who wants it?” Stoltzfus said.

He suggested Mattick have the DOT build a scale model of the project and bring it to a commission meeting, where DOT engineers could explain everything, including the parking arrangements for both the north and south side.

“I like the overall concept, but the boardwalk is a major issue,” he said.

Mattick was concerned that the TEG has been meeting for three years and no objections have been raised until now.

“We haven’t been meeting in secret. We’ve had numerous meetings and it’s been in the papers and there’s never been any negative comment.”

Nothing has changed since TEG committee member Tim Eiseler drew a conceptual design two years ago, she said.

Dye interjected that, because the project is on city property, the city needs an agreement with the DOT for liability and other issues, including any cost overruns that the DOT has said it will pay.

Mattick asked commissioners for specific changes she could give to DOT engineers to put in the design drawing, but the commission preferred to wait and provide input when the TEG meets to finalize the plan with DOT engineers Feb. 16.

That plan will then be presented at the Feb. 25 commission meeting for public review and discussion.

The proposed plan calls for an 800-foot-long boardwalk 8 inches above the ground that will allow pedestrians to walk from the humpback bridge to the south end of the pier parking area without walking behind parked vehicles.

Proposed amenities include a covered trolley shelter, picnic areas and benches, native landscaping, signage and a pier entrance that is compatible with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mattick said the proposed boardwalk is similar in design and materials to the nature walk at the Robinson Preserve in northwest Bradenton.

City pier repairs

In Mayor Fran Barford’s report, she said the city pier restaurant operators have agreed to pay for the pier repairs identified in a structural engineer’s report last year. The repairs should be completed within 60 days.

The mayor said she is still negotiating a new lease with pier operator Mario Schoenfelder, but nothing has been agreed upon. She will report any tentative agreement to the commission.

Site-plan review amendment

The commission passed the first reading of an amendment to its site-plan review ordinance that would make the commission the approval authority for most site plans, including those in the retail-office-residential district.

Several years ago, the commission had amended the procedures to give the planning and zoning board that authority.

Commissioners discussed what type of use will trigger a site plan, what is a development order and how long should a site plan be valid.

Commissioner Chuck Webb suggested 12 months for a site plan, but Dye said that’s a “pretty short time.”

Webb, however, said Anna Maria projects are not that big and he would not like to see something unfinished for more than one year.

The commission agreed to discuss the amendment further at its Feb. 11 work session.