Holmes Beach meets on $510K DOT funding

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti and building inspector David Greene met with the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and others Jan. 22 to sort out a $510,302 Florida Department of Transportation project.

        The meeting took place at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

        DOT communications director Debbie Tower said the details of the project are still being ironed out, but confirmed sidewalks, a bicycle/pedestrian trail and trolley shelters on State Route 789 were proposed.

        The project was awarded last year under the DOT five-year work program. FDOT awards funding to public improvement projects statewide, which starts with proposals to the MPO five years prior to funding.

        Former public works superintendent Joe Duennes submitted the project in June 2008, estimating $184,000 in design and construction costs.

        Tower said the project underwent a new updated cost analysis, and the $184,000 estimate was adjusted to $510,302.

        Emails in November to Duennes from FDOT project manager Aaron Kaster indicated the design part of the project needed attention.

        Kaster said he’d been trying to get in touch with Duennes for several months regarding this year’s program.

        “I need clarification on what exactly the city of Holmes Beach would like to do with the project,” he wrote. “The project has lost five months already in the design schedule.”

        Asked about the design deadlines, Kaster told The Islander the bid-letting date for the construction portion is July 31, and it was a “big no, no” to pass that deadline.

        After taking office in November, Monti learned of the project funding through emails, saying he had not been briefed by the outgoing city administration.

        He told city commissioners that the Jan. 22 meeting with the MPO and others was productive, and he’d be announcing project details soon.

        Tower said it wasn’t unusual for projects to get so close to a deadline and not have design plans.

        The project was initially proposed as landscaping improvements on East Bay Drive, north from 31st Street to Manatee Avenue and Manatee Avenue, west to the Manatee Public Beach.

        It included four trolley shelters and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of Manatee Avenue between the beach and East Bay Drive.

        The sidewalk installation has been completed by DOT, and Tower said that it was completed with other funding that became available last year.

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