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Date of Issue: August 11, 2005

Bradenton Beach pier plans OK'd

Plans have been approved for a bigger, better, bolder Bradenton Beach City Pier.

City commissioners last Thursday approved conceptual plans drafted by the O'Brien and Smith architectural firm for the pier, which is situated at the east end of Bridge Street in Anna Maria Sound.

The plans include an extensive boat dock along the south side of the pier seaward of the rock revetment to link with the city-owned dock near the pier itself.

There would also be a new, larger restaurant with 60 seats inside and 56 seats outside, a revised entryway to the pier to the south of the structure, and stand-alone dockmaster and bait shop buildings.

O'Brien and Smith estimate the total cost of the project at about $516,000, with $367,000 for the restaurant construction and $148,000 for new docks and the two added buildings. Emily Anne Smith argued that the entire project should be done at once rather than in phases, but commissioners balked, due, in part, to costs.

"I don't know where the city can come up with the money" to do the whole project at once, Commissioner John Shaughnessy said. "I think we should concentrate on getting the restaurant open, then maybe look to get grants to do the other things."

The former restaurant was closed Sept. 10, 2004, after Hurricane Frances damaged the structure. Later inspections determined that most of the building would have to be demolished due to safety concerns.

Architect Tom O'Brien said that pier supports under the deck would also probably need to be replaced and bolstered before any construction could be done.

Commissioner Lisa Maria Phillips said she had concerns regarding the change in the entryway from the current pathway through the restaurant for fishers to a southerly fisher entrance.

"I see the pier as the archway to the city," she said. "I'm going to miss going through the pier entrance to get to the deck. Something about blocking it off just doesn't sit well with me."

Smith said the southerly plan was produced based on prior commission input.

Resident James Brown said that, as a Pines Trailer Park resident, he was "the closest neighbor to the pier." He had concerns about the dumpsters being so close to his home, as well as the restaurant fan blowing hot air onto his property. Commissioners agreed to take his concerns into consideration as the pier plans become more finalized.

Building Official Ed Mc Adam also had a number of concerns regarding the preliminary drawings, all of which were agreed to by commissioners and the architects.

The plan approval is the first of what promises to be a long process before the pier restaurant in open again. Smith estimated that it would take about nine months to go out to bid on the construction, demolish the existing building, repair the decking and build a new restaurant building.

Permits from the myriad federal, state, regional and local agencies will also need to be granted.

Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter said that since the new southerly entrance will have a cantilevered deck that will add to the shade over the water, thereby possibly impacting seagrass beds near the pier, permits will need to be granted by the sovereign land division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The U.S. Coast Guard will also need to give its blessing on the project, she said, as well as Manatee County, since the city is operating the pier through a lease with the county.

Vice Mayor Bill Shearon, who is the liaison to the pier, said he would provide the city commission with a "game plan" for the permitting and bidding process by the Aug. 18 city commission meeting.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the conceptual plans, with Mayor John Chappie recusing himself due to a conflict of interest - his family has retained O'Brien and Smith for a home renovation project.