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Date of Issue: March 31, 2010

Pier boardwalk grant approved

Anna Maria is moving forward in its partnership with the Florida Department of Transportations on a plan to improve the area adjacent to the Historic Anna Maria City Pier entrance.

At their March 25 commission meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a federally funded project to build a 450-foot boardwalk along the bayfront at the Historic Anna Maria City Pier.

The project was spearheaded by Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, who applied for the $358,000 grant in 2004, before she was elected to the commission.

The grant was raised to nearly $900,000 by Florida Department of Transportation community liaison Manon Lavoie after she discovered some additional federal funds for “shovel-ready” projects. The DOT is overseeing the project and administering the grant.

Commissioner Dale Woodland had some concerns about the city’s participation in maintaining the boardwalk, but Dave Panlillio, a DOT engineering consultant, assured him the materials would last years.

Mayor Fran Barford noted that pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder has responsibility for maintenance of the pier parking lot for 100 feet north of the main entrance and 150 feet south of that entrance.

Schoenfelder recently exercised his option to extend his lease for another five years, the mayor said.

No timeframe for either the start or completion of the project has been announced, but Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Committee chairperson Sissy Quinn said she hoped it would be completed by April 2011, when the centennial celebration will be held.

Following commission approval of the project, Mattick burst into tears, then laughed, then sniffled.

“I’ve been working with this for the past five years and the day has finally come. I’m so happy,” she said.

Now that Schoenfelder has renewed his lease at the pier, he has indicated the pier will sell personalized planks as they are replaced.

Pier manager Dave Sork said the details of the plan have not yet been finalized, but that that the program will move forward as rapidly as possible.

“I don’t have any details yet, but I know it’s coming,” Sork said.

He said he plans to work out the details of the project with Schoenfelder next week.

Mattick said it’s her understanding that the plan is to allow private citizens to purchase a personalized plank on the pier when one has to be replaced.

The inscription could dedicate the plank to a lost loved one, a spouse or friend, or for any appropriate occasion, she indicated.

But the city is not involved in the project and will not have to fund any of the planks, Mattick said.

Sork said he did not know how much the planks would cost.

Schoenfelder is responsible for structural repairs to the pier. The lease calls for monthly payments to the city of $8,600. The rent was increased by $500 in December.

In other business at the commission meeting, Barford announced that Galati Marine will hold a fishing tournament at its Anna Maria location and the event should draw more than 1,000 people to the south end of Bay Boulevard.

It’s the first time Galati has held the tournament in Anna Maria, which will take place May 27-30, which is Memorial Day weekend.

Barford said the event is in a residential area and will create an impact on the residents along South Bay and throughout the city. One lane of traffic in the marina area will be shut down, and parking likely will be a major issue.

The tournament will involve a considerable effort on the part of city staff, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office-Anna Maria substation deputies, public works and other city infrastructure elements.

Although tournament proceeds will benefit All Children’s Hospital St. Petersburg, Barford suggested the $500 permit fee should be required of the organizers.

The fee is normally waived for non-profit events, but this is a different situation than an event such as Bayfest, Barford indicated.

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