Manatee County Commission partners with Bradenton Beach for pier project

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 8, 2014 

Looking a little bored with the proceedings Tuesday was Reese, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon's chocolate Lab guide dog. SARA KENNEDY/

MANATEE -- A delegation from Bradenton Beach was celebrating Tuesday after the Manatee County Commission OK'd a plan to replace the island city's badly damaged Bridge Street pier.

The plan called for the county to reimburse Bradenton Beach up to 50 percent of the cost, not to exceed $1 million, according to Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The county contribution will come from visitor "bed taxes" only, and not from property tax revenues, county officials said.

Also approved by the commission were one-time capital improvements to county-owned beach park facilities,

not to exceed $65,000; and annual money for their maintenance, not to exceed $100,000, according to county documents.

A happy group representing Bradenton Beach was at the commission meeting at County Administrative Center. Asked how soon construction on the pier project might start, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said: "As soon as we can get it going."

The pier has been damaged over the years by storms, the mayor said.

"It will be taken down," he said. "It's unsafe. We'll take it down and replace it."

City officials have been preparing for the re-do for some time, and are ready to put the project out to bid. The mayor said he hoped it would be completed in the spring.

"I feel I have the responsibility to make sure Bradenton Beach funds are used wisely, but county funds, too," Shearon said.

In other action, commissioners OK'd a transfer of county property on the south end of the Palmetto Fairgrounds to the Manatee River Fair Association, which operates the Manatee County Fair.

The purchase price of $8,400 represents an amount agreed to by the MRFA as their share of a gate access improvement that was done by the county.

"There is no other monetary consideration for the property transfer."

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