BB pier floating dock, gangway woes wear on for CRA

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The gangway that connects the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach to the floating dock rocks and shifts with the tide Jan. 10, moving the gangway off-center of the dock landing. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Dealing with the floating dock at the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach is like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

Just as the city takes care of one problem, another pops up.

The floating dock allows seafaring folk to dock their vessels to access the pier, which the dock runs parallel to. The city has either been pursuing, installing or repairing the amenity for three years.

Community Redevelopment Agency Chair Ralph Cole, also a city commissioner, told board members Jan. 8 he ordered 18 rollers — the mechanisms that allow the dock sections to rise and fall with tidal movement — for $12,000 from Golden Marine Systems after judging satisfactory GMS’s installation of railings and ladders. Cole was authorized by the CRA to move forward if he approved of Golden.

The rollers will replace those that Hecker Construction installed that did not match the original plans for the dock.

Cole said the plans from Technomarine Construction, the dock designer that defaulted on its contract with the CRA, were sent to Golden to remanufacture the rollers, beginning with a single roller to test the quality.

In the meantime, the gangway — the walkway connection between the dock and the pier — needs corrective work, according to Cole.

Cole said the gangway end shifted to the dock’s north side as recent rough waters rocked the structure and something must be done to hold the gangway straight. For now, railings will prevent the end of the gangway from sliding off the north side of the dock.

Additionally, the dock may need to be moved a few feet east.

The city hired Duncan Seawall to repair the gangway, which was pulling away from the pier, by driving and cross-bracing four pilings to support the walkway, as well as extend the pier to reach the gangway.

The repair shifted the gangway three feet to the east but the dock remained in position, causing the end of the gangway to intrude into the dock landing area.

Cole said Duncan, when it installs the new rollers, could relocate a couple of pilings and shift the dock.

Cole said he will acquire estimates for such work.


Dock additions

While problems have plagued the dock, the CRA continues to move forward with its plans to attach finger docks to the east side of the floating dock, as well as an extension to connect to a dinghy dock near the base of the pier.

The finger docks and extension would provide additional area for boats to dock and the extension would double as a “nature walk” along the shoreline.

City attorney Ricinda Perry is working with Environmental Science Associates, a consulting firm, to update a submerged land lease with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, as well as permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Perry said ESA has three questions the CRA must answer for the permitting process: is the dock extension floating or fixed? How wide is the extension? And will the extension have a handrail?

Cole said he preferred a floating extension, which would be more convenient for people to use for docking and only require one row of pilings.

Mayor John Chappie, also a CRA member, said he has concerns with the durability of floating structures and questioned whether a floating extension could hold up to rough tides.

He said he wants to test the existing floating dock’s durability.

Cole countered that floating docks can withstand harsh conditions if properly set up.

After, Perry said the CRA could modify its plans if members decide against using floating structures.

CRA member and city commissioner Jake Spooner moved to direct her to move forward with plans for a 10-foot-wide floating dock extension with a handrail on one side. Chappie seconded the motion.

CRA members voted 6-0 to approve the motion.

CRA member David Bell was absent with excuse.


Reimbursing the city

CRA members also voted 6-0 to reimburse the city $66,517 for work to fix the gangway. CRA member and commissioner Jan Vosburgh moved to approve the reimbursement. Chappie seconded the motion.

The city had hired Duncan Nov. 13, 2019, to repair the gangway connection to the pier. Duncan finished repairs and submitted an invoice in early December, but after the monthly CRA meeting, so the city had footed the bill.

Introducing the CRA

The Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency promotes restoration, growth and tourism for the district — bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico — by funding capital improvement projects with incremental tax revenue collected by Manatee County since 1992, when the area was declared blighted.

The agency includes the mayor, city commissioners and two appointed members, restaurateur Ed Chiles and resident David Bell.