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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Bradenton Beach City Pier deemed unsafe, closed

The Bradenton Beach City Pier is closed indefinitely due to safety concerns.

City commissioners ordered closure of the popular pier at the east end of Bridge Street last Thursday after receiving an inspection report from West Coast Inspection Services Inc. that cited 17 safety problems with the facility. Most pressing of the safety matters is the railing surrounding the 660-foot-long pier:

"The guard rails surrounding the open deck to the east and south give way when lateral force is applied," according to the report signed by architect J. Thomas O'Brien and West Coast Inspection President William Carlin. "The rail weaves in and out along its length. The posts attached along the south edge are each at a different angle along the guardrail. The unstable rail is a safety concern. The code requires that dock or deck areas more than 6 feet above the mean water level must be protected all around with a code-compliant guardrail. The existing guardrails do not meet those requirement."

The inspection also revealed that "the flat roofed enclosed areas extending out over the pier to the east are in quite poor condition. The ceiling heights are too low for the intended use. The roof framing and uplift anchorage is questionable. The windows and doors need to be replaced. The thermal performance of the enclosing walls needs to be upgraded. The floor structure needs to be repaired and the floor finishes restored to a sanitary condition. The 'shacks' long ago constructed on top of the pier are not suitable to be renovated into a satisfactory restaurant space. Renovation of these spaces would not be cost effective. The existing enclosed areas are a hindrance to the proper improvement of the serviceability of the buildings."

City commissioners agreed to negotiate with O'Brien and Smith Architecture to develop a scope of work for pier repairs. No cost estimates have been projected, although several years ago it was estimated that the railing replacement would cost at least $100,000.

"We don't have any choice but to close the pier until some things are fixed," said Mayor John Chappie. "We've been put on notice."

"My recommendation is to close the pier while the safety issues are done," said Vice Mayor Bill Shearon, who serves at the pier liaison to the city commission. "We need to get the pier fixed in a timely fashion."

Shearon said he hoped to bring a scope of work to city commissioners for approval by Thursday. A contractor would then be retained to conduct the work to at least allow fishing off the pier.

The pier restaurant has been closed since last September when Hurricane Frances damaged the roof and the city subsequently terminated the franchise agreement with Karen and Jake Gallo, who had operated the restaurant.

Commissioners had gone out to bid for a new franchisee late last year, but with only one bidder rejected the proposal. No further bid offering has been proffered.

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