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Date of Issue: April 12, 2007

Manatee beach pier reopens, beachgoers rejoice

mbp pier
The pier at Manatee Public Beach gets some foot traffic on April 4. The pier had been closed for months. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

People are back to mingling with the birds on the short pier at Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach.

The pier had been closed since last fall, when a fence went up to keep people off the deck over the Gulf. County officials, who oversee the facilities at the Manatee Public Beach, were concerned about rusting structural supports and commissioned an engineering study.

During a meeting in late March, county commissioners learned from Charlie Hunsicker, the county's director of conservation lands management, that the engineering review shows the pier is safe for people traffic.

Commissioners then gave Hunsicker the go-ahead to open the pier and the barriers to the walkway came down in time for the final weeks of the frenzy that is spring break.

"I know that during high season that is a great asset," said County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, who represents District 3, which includes the Island.

"I know people have missed it," she added.

On the pier April 4, Trey Cartwright and his sons, Joe, 4, and Jack, 6, searched the water for fish.

"There's one," shouted Jack.

"Where?" shouted Joe.

"There, there, and there," Jack said, pointing to the dark spots in the water where he saw movement.

"We come to the Island every year for Easter," Cartwright said. "And the boys just love the pier. They would have been disappointed if they'd been barred from it."

The area underneath the pier remains closed to swimmers because of concerns that pieces of concrete may fall.

Hunsicker said the county closed the pier with "an abundance of caution" and that the under story would remain closed with "an abundance of caution."

The county has plans to work on the pier, with a renovation set for next year.