Anna Maria considers alternatives, cost for pier planks

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People walk and read the pier planks with installation ongoing in April 2011 at the Anna Maria City Pier. Islander File Photo

Anna Maria will look for an alternative use for the 1,000 pier planks on the 800-foot walkway at the Anna Maria City Pier, but it’s possible the planks won’t be repurposed.

At a city commission meeting Nov. 9, Mayor Dan Murphy asked commissioners if they wanted him to get cost estimates for alternatives to preserve the planks instead of just replacing them.

After Murphy announced an estimate the city received for preserving the planks — prying them off the pier, power-washing, de-nailing and storage — came to more than $50,000, commissioners questioned the cost to preserve them.

Commissioner Carol Carter said the city would have other expenses to repair the pier, questioning whether the city wanted to spend funds on preserving the planks.

Plus, Carter added, “when you raise money for capital projects, you don’t promise the donor” that goods constructed from their donation will be there forever.

Murphy also issued a disclaimer to the audience and the public: “The city had nothing to do with (the engraving) program.”

Murphy said the city could not reimburse people for the cost of their planks or identify where someone’s plank is, pointing out the city was not involved in the plank sponsorship and has no information on their location on the pier or the engravings.

The engraving program was a partnership between the tenant, the Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant, and The Islander.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said that based on his experience as a woodworker, he did not see how the planks could easily be refurbished.

“A boardwalk might make sense,” he said, “but if you’re building a boardwalk, why use wood that’s already halfway into its lifespan?”

Commissioner Brian Seymour suggested Murphy look into the option of holding a sort of “open house” event in which people who want a plank could point out their plank. The city then would mark and reserve those planks and destroy the rest.

Murphy asked commissioners to consider the feelings of residents. “There’s a lot of emotion in the emails we receive” about the planks, he said, citing examples of people using the planks to memorialize lost relatives.

“There’s a lot of people looking at us saying, ‘What kind of city are you? Are you compassionate?’” he warned commissioners.

Commissioners concluded that Murphy should pursue options for the pier, particularly for methods of returning planks to those who want them.

Murphy said he would come back in December with more estimates.

In addition, he said, commissioners would meet again with Ayres Associates in December to solidify plans for replacing the pier.

“We’re still in the permitting stage,” he said, pointing out that no details about the physical construction of the pier have been decided on yet.

4 thoughts on “Anna Maria considers alternatives, cost for pier planks

  1. Becky Kieffer

    So the city “had nothing to do” with the planks…….but they sure as HELL didn’t mind the public funding it!!!
    I am BEYOND disgusted with this group!
    If the Islander has the records, how can these politicians claim there’s no way to discern who’s plank was sponsored by whom?
    My family paid the ridiculously over-priced gouging for 2 planks in memory of my Dad.
    Since the politicians seem to be so busy screwing over natives and visitors alike; GIVE ME 30 MINUTES, I’LL REMOVE THEM MYSELF!

    1. bonnerj

      The plank engraving was a sponsorship — not ownership — and it was a partnership between the tenant, Anna Maria City Pier Restaurant, and The Islander. Signup was online online, and only email addresses and the plank message were retained — many of which (some AOL) may have changed. The sponsorship fee for the planks included lumber, engraving, installation, replacement of stringers and removal and hauling of the old lumber. It also helped pay for fireworks for the centennial celebration — attended by hundreds of people. We all thank you for contributing. == Bonner Joy

  2. Carol Soo

    I purchased a plank years ago and wondered if you could tell me where the plank is located. The name on the plank would be HEINLEIN – SOO (or vice versa). My parents were residents of Holmes Beach from 1972 through 2008.

    thank you.

    1. bonnerj

      You can search directly to The Islander website and search “city pier plank list” for a list of all the planks on the pier in numeric order — as they appear on the pier from the landslide to the T-end. — Bonner Joy


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