It was a clear, blue morning and the Anna Maria City Pier was buzzing with activity.
But not the kind you think.
Workers were removing planks.
The demolition of the pier began June 11 with the removal of some 250 requested planks from the 800-foot-long walkway.
Early that day, Frank Agnelli, owner of Agnelli Pools & Construction, 6000 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, and Anna Maria public works manager Dean Jones and their crews began removing and cataloging the pier planks — first the requested planks and, later, the remainder.
Almost 250 people, according to Mayor Dan Murphy, asked for planks from the 1,000 boards bought and installed during the pier centennial 2010-11.
The remaining engraved planks will be stored for use in memorial fences at City Pier Park, 101 N. Bay Blvd., and the Anna Maria Historical Society park at 402 Pine Ave.
Agnelli volunteered for the job.
The requested planks are being held and distributed by the city, while Agnelli will store the other boards until the city is ready to install fences.
Demolition of the superstructure is expected to be completed in September.
The initial removal of planks was the first stage for the city pier demolition. The final plank removal will come later, as the walkway is needed to access the T-end.
The city commission voted 4-1 June 6 to authorize Murphy to contract Speeler and Associates to bring down the pier. Commissioner Dale Woodland voted no.
Mobilization of demolition vehicles and equipment at the pier is next.
Upon completion by June 30 of the mobilization, Speeler will receive an initial payment of $100,000.
Payments to Speeler will be made in four installments, with a final payment of $109,000 due Oct. 1, with completion of the work.
In all, the demolition will cost the city $732,000.
The completion date for the demolition is Sept. 30, depending on weather and tides. The contract stipulates Speeler must pay a $500 daily penalty for every day the project continues past the completion deadline.
The city pier rebuild is projected to cost up to $4.5 million. So far, the city has raised $2.83 million toward the project.
Murphy anticipates receiving at least $1.1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the $2.1 million request for pier damage sustained by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
The new city pier structure is planned to wrap up by December 2019, with the restaurant, bait shop and facilities to follow.
People who requested engraved planks will be asked to collect them at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, 10 a.m.-noon weekdays, beginning Monday, July 2, and through July — excluding July 4.
Be forewarned: The planks are marine-grade lumber, 2 by 8 inches by 12 feet, and may require assistance to move and transport in an appropriate-sized vehicle.
For all those people who miss the Anna Maria City Pier and lament its demise, here are photos and video from Jack Elka, all shot in the days immediately before removal of engraved memorial planks began — and before the ultimate demolition in July. Enjoy and look for your planks in the video .. it covers the entire walkway!
Cheers to the pier.
— Bonner Joy and Jack Elka