Anna Maria to return pier planks, build fences from others

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Island vacationer Sven Heinrich watches Jan. 5 as a crew takes core samples from underneath the Anna Maria City Pier. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

The Anna Maria City Pier planks have a purpose.

The engraved planks that will be removed to rebuild the pier will be put to use in a fence on the perimeter of City Pier Park and at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society.

If those who sponsored a plank want it returned instead, they will have a short window of opportunity to make their request to the city, according to Mayor Dan Murphy

The final date to request a plank will be Jan. 26, Murphy said, and requests should be emailed to

The email should include details about the plank engraving and contact information.

A pickup date to retrieve planks will be announced after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves a permit for contractors to begin work, which is expected to start in March.

Anna Maria city commissioners approved Murphy’s twofold proposal Jan. 5 to return planks to any sponsors that request them and use the remainder of the 1,100 engraved boards in custom-fencing at City Pier Park at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard and at the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum at 402 Pine Ave.

Central to the proposal is an offer from island-based contractor Frank Agnelli, who volunteered to pull up and store the planks at no charge until the fences can be built.

Murphy said previous estimates to pull the planks came in at $50,000, adding that the city owes Agnelli a formal thanks for his offer.

The project will take about a year, Murphy said, and will cost about $10,000.

Other proposals discussed included using the planks in the City Pier Restaurant and bait shop, building furniture for the restaurant or storing and finally, destroying unclaimed planks.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said in his experience as a woodworker, he wouldn’t recommend using the planks to build furniture or portions of the restaurant because of their worn condition.

“They’re twisted, cracked, split,” he said. “To try to turn them into fine furniture, fine paneling, is really asking for something that might be possible, but the end result certainly would not be worth the money.”

Commissioner Carol Carter said even promising to return the planks could be risky because planks could fall apart upon removal. Murphy said the city would not guarantee that the planks could be turned over to their sponsors for that reason.

Becky Kieffer, a Ruskin resident, told commissioners her family sponsored two planks and she wants them returned. “I don’t want my dad to be a picnic table. I don’t want my dad to be a chair … I don’t care what shape they’re in, I want them.”

Laurie Sabath, a Bradenton Beach resident who owns property in Anna Maria, asked whether the city would sell scrap wood from the pier.

Murphy said the city would consider that as an option.

The City Pier Restaurant and The Islander newspaper partnered on the sale of engraved planks for the pier to promote the pier’s centennial celebration in 2011.

During that project, some islanders helped themselves to the discarded pier lumber for repurposing.

The Sandbar restaurant used planks in its decor, as did Salon Salon on Pine Avenue.

The Anna Maria City Pier was declared “totally destroyed” according to the terms of its lease after Hurricane Irma passed Sept. 10-11. Estimates from the contractor, Ayres Associates, allow 62-82 weeks to rebuild.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter was absent with excuse from the Jan. 5 meeting.

8 thoughts on “Anna Maria to return pier planks, build fences from others

  1. Gary McMullen

    Pier Planks,
    The City of Anna Maria had nothing to do with the planks when they were sold by the Islander for the Centennial Pier Celebration. The City, in fact, has just about as stated that what to do with them has become a burden to the city. Reporting today in the Islander that they may have to hire someone to oversee their return. Since the planks were never city property as new planks were inscribed and replaced old planks on the pier, why are two employees who did the city a favor and decreased the burden of the plank return being made scapegoats? Those two employees have been on the pier many times after it was closed. They have put signs up over and over and have scrubbed the planks due to the many bird feces with there being no foot traffic because of the closure. You can’t appropriate city property if it is, indeed, not city property. The planks were returned to their rightful owners without any reimbursement. These full time city employees should have Civil Service protection against unwarranted termination. I hope that the City of Anna Maria will reconsider what appears to be harsh discipline that was without harm to anyone.

  2. Becky Kieffer

    I submitted my request for the return of 2 planks. I’ve yet to get any kind of confirmation back. Has anyone else had this issue?
    I, of course, will follow up with a phone call to the number provided, but just wondered if anyone else has had confirmation.

    1. bonnerj

      I can tell you only that given the atmosphere about the planks and the pier, I doubt the city would allow another such project. The Islander co-sponsored (and managed) the plank memorials with the pier management, who work for the lease holder and, while we believe the planks fall under the lease-tenant’s purview, the city is in control now. Maybe we can find a way to create “virtual” planks! — Bonner Joy

      1. Becky Kieffer

        I agree. The city stated they had “nothing” to do with the sale…..but were sure quick to decide what to do with them……

  3. Ron Simpson

    We bought two planks in honor of our parents & God’s Paradise and would encourage doing a fund raiser again. It reflected a lot of love to other folks who had passed & our love for our island.

    It was a historical pier and hopefully we will not lose that perspective! Been coming to AMI since mid 60s..

  4. Mary & Family

    First of all
    ..Mr. Angelli….thank you… that’s such kind spirited offering! We need more people like you!
    As for the City Pier…it will be missed….when I first visited the pier….I felt a sense of peace….there’s just something about it I can’t explain. I will miss eating a pecan roll from Ginny and Jane e’s….sitting on the bench watching for sea life…….getting my two scoops in the late evening and talking to the fishermen….listening to the gentleman sing and play the guitar….eating at the restaurant…and fishing! Iknow it will be rebuilt….but the originallity and history of the pier will be remembered and missed.


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