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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Bradenton Beach pier discussion slated for Thursday

After lengthy debate, Bradenton Beach city commissioners agreed last week to further discuss repairs to the closed city pier this week, with a scheduled vote on what to do in two weeks.

The pier was ordered closed March 10 for safety reasons. An inspection report on the pier at the east end of Bridge Street revealed a host of problems, with a wobbly railing the most pressing for the pier proper.

The report also suggested much of the pier restaurant be demolished. West Coast Inspection Services Inc. wrote in its report that "the flat roofed enclosed areas extending out over the pier to the east are in quite poor condition. The ceiling heights are too low for the intended use. The roof framing and uplift anchorage is questionable. The windows and doors need to be replaced. The thermal performance of the enclosing walls needs to be upgraded. The floor structure needs to be repaired and the floor finishes restored to a sanitary condition. The ‘shacks' long ago constructed on top of the pier are not suitable to be renovated into a satisfactory restaurant space. Renovation of these spaces would not be cost effective. The existing enclosed areas are a hindrance to the proper improvement of the serviceability of the buildings."

Commissioners last week began to discuss an amended scope of work produced by O'Brien and Smith Architects of Bradenton Beach for design and re-construction of the restaurant and related facilities. However, the last-minute paperwork on the project prompted the commission to eventually postpone further discussion on proceeding with the pier project until a work session meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 24.

The commission also agreed not to take any official action on the matter until its regular meeting April 7.

"I've been contacted by citizens who were not happy we were moving so fast," said City Commissioner Rob Nachtigal. "They said they want other people involved in the architectural work. The suggestion was made to contact other architectural firms."

Other commissioners concurred and unanimously approved the truncated time schedule for discussion, with Mayor John Chappie abstaining because of a conflict of interest with O'Brien and Smith - he and his mother have contracted with the firm for architectural services at her home.

O'Brien and Smith have offered a five-part scope of work for pier improvements. The plan includes new design drawings for the structure east of the entryway of the pier - deemed sound by the inspection team - as well as review with the city commission on the plans. There was also a proposal for final architectural drawings based upon city commission approval, structural engineering review of the 625-foot-long pier, and schematic drawings for a proposed harbor master station, including a city-owned dock due south of the pier.

Cost of the revised scope of work was $17,886.

Earlier this year, city officials went out to bid for pier design services. O'Brien and Smith was the lone bidder.

Vice Mayor Bill Shearon did offer some preliminary estimates to at least get the pier open to the public and fishers.

He said he believed the work needed to "stiffen the posts of the railing" - which apparently only includes 16 posts - and securing the hand railing could be done by two people in about two days at a cost of $650, excluding labor.

The pier rest rooms were another matter. Shearon said his estimate on the time to bring the facilities into complaince with Americans with Disability Act requirements would be seven weeks. Previously, the cost to do the work on the rest rooms was estimated at about $6,000.

The pier restaurant has been closed since last September when Hurricane Frances damaged the roof and the city subsequently terminated the franchise agreement with Karen and Jake Gallo, who had operated the restaurant.

Commissioners had gone out to bid for a new franchisee late last year, but with only one bidder they rejected the proposal. No further bid offering has been proffered.