City to save for Bridge Street pier rebuild

Bradenton Beach commissioners, while budgeting for 2011-12, also are budgeting for a major capital improvements project — the reconstruction of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

Commissioner Janie Robertson won the full commission’s support for her recommendation that 92 percent of the newest round of community redevelopment agency money be earmarked for the pier project.

“What I am suggesting that we do with what CRA monies we get this year is we designate a percentage to be put in escrow and earmarked for pier revitalization,” Robertson suggested at a recent meeting. “We need to start saving for that.”

The CRA district, established about 18 years ago, includes the area from Sarasota Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, and from Cortez Road to Fifth Street South. The CRA generates dedicated property tax dollars for projects to boost business, promote recreation and preserve and revitalize the community.

CRA money is being used to pay off a loan taken out to add amenities and rebuild the restaurant portion of the pier after it was damaged by a storm in 2004.

City clerk Nora Idso said the loan — a payment of $550,000 a year — would be paid off in December 2012.

Then the city plans to rebuild the portion of the pier seaward of the restaurant. The reconstruction would cost more than $500,000, possibly as much as $750,000, according to public works director Tom Woodard.

Robertson cautioned that if the city encountered a structural problem with the pier and had zero dollars set aside for its rebuild, the structure would have to be closed.

Mayor Bob Bartelt said if that happened “we would look like we’ve got an awful lot of egg on our chin. …We obviously need to keep this on the front burner.”

The CRA revenue for the next fiscal year will not be known until later this summer.

The pier costs the city about $30,600 a year to maintain. The pier income — the restaurant and fishing kiosk leases — are about $113,000.

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