MANATEE -- Harry Blenker’s Palmetto company has worked on docks and seawalls, transported heavy trusses, delivered yachts and even moved a baby grand piano.
But beginning next week, Blenker’s Quality Marine Construction will have to deconstruct someone’s dream.
“It could have been very nice, but now it’s got very little left to salvage,” Blenker said of Dreammaker, the derelict floating house that his company will be removing in the next week.
The floating house has been sitting for months in the Manatee River between spans of the Interstate 75 bridge in Ellenton.
Manatee County commissioners recently approved spending up to $20,000 to remove the floating house, which the owners, who once saw it as their dream home, have now abandoned.
The house, which has a catamaran-like dual hull, does not have any propulsion of its own and was set adrift by storms after being moored near the bridge.
Blenker, who entered the low bid of $14,750, is expected to get the green light this week from Manatee government to begin to dismantle and tow the structure.
“We think everything will be ready soon so they can start removing it in a week or a week and a half,” said Nick Azzara, a county spokesman.
So how do you get rid of a two-story house half sunken in the river?
You start by bringing in two good-sized, empty barges and a crew with heavy duty tools, Blenker said.
“The first objective is to get weight off the hulls,” Blenker said.
The crew will carefully demolish the first and second stories and put the scrap on the barges where they will be taken to the dump, Blenker said.
“When we work, we use turbidity barriers so nothing gets into the water,” Blenker said.
After the two stories are dismantled, Blenker will use air bags to bring up the partially sunken hulls of the house.
“Once we get it lifted, we will tow the hulls to a marina,” Blenker said. “It will be a slow tow.”
The entire operation should take a week, Blenker said.
“The entire house will be in several 50-yard Dumpsters heading for the landfill,” Blenker said.
The owners, or others, removed appliances and hardware and the only item that could possibly be salvageable is a spiral staircase, which may also be worthless since it has been in salt water for a long time.
Blenker said he saw Dreammaker before it got in trouble and it was a different story.
“It could have been nice,” Blenker said. “But the first and part of the second story have been in the water for months.”
Blenker also has been in touch with the family that owned the house. He said they are devastated by the loss.
But others are not.
“I know for a fact that some people were not happy with the house,” Blenker said. “I spoke to some residents at Pelican Point Mobile Home Park and they were upset because of the dogs barking.”
The owners of the house kept dogs on the house, Blenker said.
The dogs were removed in early October, around the time the county posted the house for removal.
Azzara said the county may be reimbursed for the house’s removal through West Coast Inland Navigation District funds.
“That district funds a lot of the canal and dredge improvements and often pays to improve channels where there is an obstruction that is a hazard to navigation,” Azzara said in an earlier interview.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.