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Date of Issue: February 03, 2010

Pier gone, bids in for Manatee beach concession

This aerial view of the Manatee Public Beach was taken shortly before equipment and fencing were removed from the beach following demolition of the pier. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

The remaining debris of the Manatee Public Beach Pier, as well as demolition vehicles and a fence were removed Jan. 28.

For about a month, crews worked to remove all signs of the pier.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department, said the demolition crew had until mid-January to complete its work.

“They were to remove all material above the water line to approximately a foot and a half below the water line,” Hunsicker said.

Some snowbirds and vacationers complained about the work, saying it was bad timing to remove the pier during tourist season because high numbers of visitors frequent the beach.

The former 300-foot pier will be replaced by a new one, but Hunsicker said there is no a timetable for its completion.

A majority of Holmes Beach city commissioners are in favor of a 312-foot T-end pier, which could be favorable for fishers, who would have more area to cast their baits out of the way of walkers.

There also is an option for a 700-foot-long pier. Some proponents of the longer pier said it would be good for tourism and would improve fishing, enabling anglers to fish at a deeper water depth.

But some against the 700-foot pier, such as Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, said a longer pier would make the Manatee Public Beach just like any other beach in Florida.

A 700-foot pier remains possible, however, with possible funding from public beach concession fees, Whitmore said. The county could take a long-term loan and pay it off with concession fees.

The buildings and properties at Coquina and Manatee beaches are presently up for bid with Jan. 29 the deadline for submissions.

Manatee County officials opened proposals for operations of the Manatee and Coquina beach concessions Jan. 29.

Companies submitting proposals for Coquina Beach included Blue Wave in Nokomis, Loggerhead Beach Cafe of Holmes Beach and United Park Services in Tampa.

For the Manatee Public Beach concessions, bids came from Blue Wave Division of Sunrise Sunset Concession in Nokomis, United Park Services and Loggerhead Beach Cafe, and current contract-holder for both concessions, Cafe on the Beach LLC, which includes P.S. Beach Associates Inc. and the Beach Shop.

The county will release information regarding the bidders’ experience and bid amounts Feb. 8, or when the county declares a bid winner.

Cafe on the Beach owner Dee Schaefer said if she did not win the bid, she will have until July 20 to vacate the property.

County contract buyer Melissa Assha said that the county expects to declare a bid winner before July 20.