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Date of Issue: May 07, 2008

Electronic eyes up on pier

Surveillance cameras have been installed on the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach to promote safety and deter vandalism.

Police Chief Sam Speciale said the cameras - presently six cameras but eventually a total of nine - link to a computer system so police and other city employees can monitor pier activity. Images from the cameras also can be recorded for review.

Speciale’s top concern, which is shared by city commissioners, the mayor and public works director Tom Woodard, is protecting people and the pier from harm.

During a May 1 meeting, members of a city pier team discussed a recent incident that forced the closure of a pier bathroom.

A man apparently entered the bathroom and dumped a volume of waste in a toilet, plugging up the system and forcing the closure of the facility over the weekend.

City officials suspect the man was discarding waste from his live-aboard boat.

“The amount in the toilet, it wasn’t a one-time thing,” Woodard said.

Cameras, said city officials, could help in detecting problematic activity, though not actually monitoring inside the bathrooms.

In addition to the cameras, Speciale suggested the city add at least one more light on the pier.

“There’s a dark spot,” Speciale said.

In other business, the pier team discussed new signs for the pier, which should be in place this week.

Also, Woodard said he planned to make sure high-traffic areas of the pier are pressure-cleaned each week and someone is on call for pier emergencies over weekends.

Team members also agreed the city should redraft a bid for the replacement of a dinghy dock near the pier, scaling back the project to eliminate a floating dock.

Only one bid - for $15,600 - to build a wood deck with a floating dock was submitted to the city. Mayor Michael Pierce, Vice Mayor John Chappie, Commissioner Janie Robertson and Speciale agreed the price was too steep.

“We don’t need the Taj Mahal,” Pierce said.