Bradenton Beach ‘pulls trigger’ on historic district plans

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The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency plans to enhance the safety and aesthetics of the roundabout and surrounding landscaping at Bridge Street and Gulf Drive. Islander File Photo: 
ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

It’s time to break down the plan and “pull the trigger.”

The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency May 2 reviewed a 15-year budget planning work sheet and determined which projects to begin this year and in 2018-19.

With guidance from city engineer Lynn Burnett, the CRA has developed an updated master plan to hardscape — incorporate architectural features — and landscape in the CRA district, which is bounded by the north side of Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico.

The CRA consists of the city commission and two business members, restaurateurs John Horne, AMOB owner, and Ed Chiles, owner of the Beach House.

The CRA, along with Burnett and city attorney Ricinda Perry, reviewed the list and determined which items to address.

“This spreadsheet is a tool to help us figure out what we want to plan for and what we want to go ahead and pull the trigger on,” Perry said.

A motion to move forward with short-term projects — updated benches, garbage receptacles, retrofitted planter boxes with new landscaping, solar beacon lights, pavers and bike-path and gateway signage — passed unanimously.

Other items on the list, including a new well for irrigating the landscaping and 22 hanging baskets along Bridge Street, remain under consideration.

The estimated cost for short-term projects totals $470,052.

Commissioner Jake Spooner suggested the CRA implement the short-term projects that “can be done now” to enhance the look of the district, while considering longer-term options, including the well.

Mayor John Chappie said he is concerned the hanging baskets could become a “maintenance nightmare” and reminded the board that CRA funds cannot be used for maintenance, so the cost would fall to the city.

Members agreed to postpone discussion of the well and hanging baskets to a future meeting.

Additionally, CRA members discussed implementing plans to enhance the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The first phase is the replacement of the floating dock for loading and unloading passengers adjacent to the pier, expected to be in place by the end of June.

The next phase — approved, but not funded — would include slips, or finger-docks, attached to the floating dock.

The final phase would be seagrass mitigation for additional finger docks between the floating dock and a city-owned dock on the south side of the pier.

Chiles suggested placing clams from the Gulf Shellfish Institute — of which he is treasurer — into the anchorage by the pier.

“We could put a half-million clams in there cheap,” Chiles said. It could amount to an attraction for people. “It’s another hook and it’s great for the water, great for the environment.”

Commissioner Ralph Cole, also CRA chair, said this supports his idea to create a “living shoreline” in the anchorage adjacent to the pier.

A motion for Chiles to work with the GSI to develop a proposal for a living shoreline for the CRA to consider, including a cost and time frame, passed unanimously.

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