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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.

2 Bradenton women arrested for cocaine possession

Two Bradenton women were arrested for cocaine possession by Holmes Beach police following a traffic stop.

At 3:23 a.m. Dec. 28, 2019, officers observed a Toyota being driven at a high rate of speed. When the driver failed to stop at a four-way flashing signal at the intersection of Manatee Avenue West and Gulf Drive, officers initiated a traffic stop.

Holmes Beach Police Department officers reported an odor of marijuana emitted from the vehicle and there was a bag of marijuana on the console.

The driver, Joselin Soto, 20, of Bradenton, told police she had a medical marijuana card, but a check of the card by police showed it expired. Soto told police she did not renew it because of the holidays.

Officers informed Soto that medical marijuana must remain in its original packaging.

While speaking to officers, Soto reached for a backpack, which police took and placed on the hood of the car.

Police reported that the backpack contained a plastic bag with marijuana, burnt marijuana cigarettes, a hypodermic needle and an eyeglass case holding a white substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. The cocaine weighed 10.2 grams.

When officers told Soto her car was going to be towed, she allegedly said, “You are not searching my vehicle. You are not towing my car.”

Officers did search the vehicle and reported finding $160 in cash, a plastic bag containing a white powdery residue and a digital scale.

A passenger in Soto’s vehicle, Jazmine Garcia, 19, also was arrested. Her backpack contained two plastic bags with a green leafy substance, 1.3 grams of cocaine and a used hypodermic needle.

The green leafy substance was submitted for testing.

Both women were arrested for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bond for each was set at $2,000 and they were given appearance dates of Jan. 24 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Soto also was cited for failure to obey a red flashing traffic signal.

Parrish man arrested in Holmes Beach for possession, sale of marijuana

A Parrish man was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell following a traffic stop by a Holmes Beach police officer.

HBPD received a license plate reader hit on a suspended license for a vehicle being driven by Jailyn Stewart, 20. He was driving in the 5300 block of Gulf Drive at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 27.

A traffic stop was initiated and the patrol police reported a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

According to police, Stewart said he was in possession and handed the officer a jar containing marijuana.

Stewart and a passenger exited the car and police searched the vehicle, finding two large plastic bags filled with marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a digital scale. They also found $763 in Stewart’s pocket.

Stewart was charged with possession of cannabis of more than 20 grams with intent to sell. HBPD said the marijuana field-tested positive for cannabis and weighed about .57 pounds.

Stewart’s bond was set at $1,500 and he was given a first appearance date of Jan. 24.

Stewart was also issued a citation for driving with a suspended license and his car was towed.

The passenger was not arrested.

HBPD searches, returns juvenile home safe and sound

A missing juvenile was found safe in Holmes Beach after almost 11 hours.

The search Jan. 3 involved about 20 first-responders.

The boy’s sister had gone to the Holmes Beach Police Department Jan. 3 to report her sibling, who is autistic, missing. About 1 p.m. that day he had walked off a construction site on Portosueno Avenue in Bradenton’s Palma Sola Park, where he had gotten into trouble while assisting his father.

The boy was seen by a family member around 4:30 p.m. at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, and the family was notified and searched the beach.

A missing person report was filed at 10:30 p.m. and HBPD officers, with the assistance of Bradenton Beach Police Department officers and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies, searched the island. A description of the juvenile was sent to other law enforcement agencies, as well as local hospitals.

Manatee County Search and Rescue responded with 15 officers and multiple K-9s to canvas Anna Maria Island and west Bradenton, searching well into the night before calling off the search at 3:30 a.m.

Shortly after the search was called off, a Holmes Beach officer found the juvenile riding his bike on Manatee Avenue and he was returned to his family.

The age of the juvenile and his city of residence were not released by police.

Support AME, with a healthy run

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Put on your running shoes.

Together with the Bradenton Running Club, Anna Maria Elementary race organizer Kelly Gitt is looking for entries and sponsors for the Anna Maria Island Dolphin Dash and fun run.

The 5-kilometer race and 1-mile run will begin at 8 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 8.

The races kick off in at the school south parking lot, 4700 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

The 5k runners will start at 8 a.m. and the fun run begins at 9 a.m.

Race day registration begins at 7 a.m.

Awards and refreshments will follow the race.

Proceeds support AME and the goal is to raise $25,000 for new school benches.

Sponsorship tiers are available for businesses and individuals.

Race fees cost $25 per adult and $15 per child under 18.

Also, the race organizers are selling sponsorships to businesses and individuals.

Gold sponsorships are available for $500 and silver for $250.

Both sponsorships include promotional material that will be dispersed at the race also, and gold sponsors get a booth at the race site.

Limited space is available for logo placement on T-shirts, flyers and advertising.

For more information, contact Gitt at 941-357-4488 or email kelly@gittsoldit.com

Eyes on the road 01-15-2020

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following for the week of Jan. 13:

  • Cortez Road and 119th Street West in Cortez: Work to reconstruct and reconfigure the intersection of 119th Street West on Cortez Road is beginning. Drivers can expect detours.
  • Multiple locations in Bradenton Beach: A Manatee County pipeline replacement project continues in Bradenton Beach, possibly through the spring. Impacted areas include Bay Drive South to Bridge Street, Church Avenue to Cortez Road. Construction in rights of way is expected, as well as increased truck traffic and heavy equipment operations. People — motorists and pedestrians — can expect detours.
  • Longboat Pass Bridge on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach/Longboat Key: Work on the Longboat Pass Bridge on Gulf Drive between Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key continue. Southern Road & Bridge, the contractor, is completing final checks and delays are not expected. The new completion target is early 2020, pushed back from the end of 2019.

For the latest road watch information, go online to fl511.com and swflroads.com or dial 511.

To view traffic conditions, go online to smarttrafficinfo.org.

Hundreds take 2020 Gulf plunge

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People — some in costume — rush Jan. 1, New Year’s Day, into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 12th annual fundraising event, the Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. More, page 2. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Bradenton residents Paul Halvorsen, left, and Bill Capobianco are outfitted Jan. 1 as Pacific Islanders for the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest. The pair finished as runners up to the “Pac Man family.”
Bradenton resident Dana Rothgery, right, organizes her family, costumed in a Pac Man-theme, for the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest held Jan. 1. The “Pac Man family” won the award for best costumes, having earned the loudest and most applause. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
Bradenton resident Paul Devine, costumed as a sea turtle, dangles a smaller sea turtle from a string in his hand Jan. 1, during the Shamrock Shiver best costume contest in Bradenton Beach.
Sarasota resident Mike Gustow is dressed as a fisherman with a mermaid, wife Bonnie, as his catch at the Shamrock Shiver costume contest, Jan. 1 in Bradenton Beach.

What better way to start 2020 than to plunge into the Gulf of Mexico?

The air was a crisp 64 degrees when hundreds of people rushed Jan. 1 into the Gulf of Mexico for Clancy’s 12th annual Shamrock Shiver New Year’s Day Charity Plunge at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach.

About 500 people attended the event, according to Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub employee Daniel Cassidy. Nearly half of the attendees took the plunge.

Before the run to the Gulf, the crowd judged a costume contest.

Participants included Paul Devine, who dressed as a sea turtle. Bill Capobianco and Paul Halvorsen were costumed as Pacific Islanders. Steve Theroux was dressed as Spock from “Star Trek.” And a group arrived costumed in a Pac Man-theme.

The “Pac Man family,” led by Bradenton resident Dana Rothgery, won the top prize.

At the parking lot, volunteers collected donations and sold event T-shirts.

After the plunge at noon, people went to Clancy’s, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, for an after-party with raffles, live music, food, beverages and awards.

Proceeds benefit Caring for Children Charities, the fundraising arm of the Sarasota-based nonprofit organization, Florida Winefest and Auction.

Clancy’s has helped raised $246,876 since beginning its annual plunge in 2009.

The 2019 plunge raised about $27,000.

The 2020 plunge raised $25,537 as of Jan. 5, according to Rayma Stowe of Clancy’s.

To pledge or donate to the campaign, contact Jan Crudele of Florida Winefest at 941-952-1109.

For more information, call Stowe at 941-720-4072.

Jacksonville man gets probation for DUI

A Jacksonville Beach man arrested in August 2019 for driving under the influence after leaving a Bradenton Beach bar was sentenced to a year of probation.

Lonson Becker, 32, was arrested Aug. 17 in the parking lot at 116 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, by a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy called to assist Bradenton Beach police.

Becker appeared Nov. 20, 2019, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, with his attorney Richard Eisenberg and pleaded no contest to the charge of driving under the influence.

As part of a Bridge Street patrol, BBPD Officer Eric Hill checked on The Lighthouse bar, located on the second level of the Hynds Commercial building at 119 Bridge St., and noticed Becker appeared intoxicated, with slurred speech and trouble standing.

A police report states Hill advised Becker to leave but not to drive and that Becker said he would call someone to drive him home.

Hill later observed Becker driving a vehicle at Bridge Street and Bay Drive. The driver ran a stop sign and traveled the wrong way around the traffic circle.

An MCSO deputy arrived, tested Becker for signs of impairment and made the DUI arrest.

Becker refused to provide breath samples on the scene and at the Manatee County jail, where he was booked.

Becker also was ticketed for running a stop sign and traveling the wrong way at the roundabout on Bay Drive. Those charges were dismissed.

County readies for beach renourishment in 2020

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A bulldozer moves sand in on Anna Maria Island in April 2011, near the end of a beach renourishment effort. Islander File Photo: Lisa Neff

Anna Maria Island’s beaches wouldn’t be so impressive without a little bit of help.

The sandy shores people know and love in Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach are the product of a noisy necessity: beach renourishment.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, said nothing can be done to abate the noise caused by equipment — which he described as akin to the sound of a waterfall — but the benefits outweigh the costs.

“If we forego our beach renourishment programming because it’s too noisy, we’d end up with no beach at all,” he said in an interview Jan. 2 with The Islander.

Beach renourishment is the practice of replacing sand lost through erosion, often by jetting a slushie of oceanwater and sand from an offshore seabed to the beach via a pipeline.

Renourishment restores beaches and prevents erosion from damaging coastal infrastructure.

Renourishment is intended to save property and property values from damage caused by erosion.

Hunsicker said the island shoreline suffers from 10-12 feet of erosion every year, which must be countered with renourishment.

Three projects are planned this year to rebuild the beaches from 79th Street in Holmes Beach southward to Longboat Pass.

Hunsicker said the Army Corps of Engineers is taking bids for the first stage of their project, which involves putting a small amount of sand at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, to be funded by the county and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Work could begin as early as March, but the timeline is dependent on the Army Corps, according to Hunsicker.

The second project — funded by the county, state and Army Corps — will replenish sand from 79th Street in Holmes Beach to Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach.

Work will then progress south until reaching Longboat Pass for the third project, which will be funded by the county and state.

More than 700,000 cubic yards of sand for the latter two projects will be excavated and pipelined to the beach from 4,000 feet offshore near Passage Key in the Gulf of Mexico.

The same contractor will be used for both projects to minimize mobilization costs.

Hunsicker said noise from the projects will be the waterfall-like sounds caused by constantly jetting a slushie of oceanwater and sand ashore, as well as mechanical sounds — heavy equipment and operators who move bulldozers to spread sand.

While work is set to stretch across island beaches day and night for months, Hunsicker said any given location along the beach will be within earshot of the projects for only three days — one day as work approaches, another as it reaches the location, and on the third day as it moves south.

“It’s like a slow-moving river of work in front of a property,” Hunsicker said. “It’s a 24/7 operation because it’s near impossible to operate only during the day because the sand has to keep flowing through the pipeline.”

When the projects begin, the county will post a page on its website, mymanatee.org, so people can track where renourishment work is occurring.

While renourishment noise may prove to be an inconvenience for some, local restaurateur Ed Chiles — owner of the Beach House Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach — is excited for work to begin.

“It’s music to my ears,” Chiles told The Islander in a Jan. 2 interview. “You’ve got to be willing to take a little bit of inconvenience to have these gorgeous beaches. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I’d say it’s a pretty great bargain.”

Chiles said he has experienced multiple renourishment projects as the work passes by his island restaurants — including the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria — and they have only negligibly impacted the businesses. He credited Hunsicker for his involvement in leading the county renourishment programs.

“I’ll never forget the first time they rolled by,” Chiles said. “You know the old adage about land and how they aren’t making any more of it? Well, this is where you actually see them making land.”

“It’s like the greatest sandbox you’ve ever seen,” he continued. “And you see people become frozen all the time while watching it because it’s just so interesting to see.”

Renourishment funding

Minor repair to Coquina
Total cost: $6,400,000
County funding: $3,750,000
FEMA funding: $2,650,000
Central Beach Project
(79th Street in Holmes Beach to Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach)
Total cost: $20,500,000
Army Corps of Engineers funding: $11,600,000
County funding: $4,450,000
State funding: $4,450,000
Coquina Beach Project
(Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach to Longboat Pass)
Total cost: $6,200,000
County funding: $3,100,000
State funding: $3,100,000