ANNA MARIA -- The Anna Maria Commission will move forward with the refurbishment of one of its beloved landmarks, the Anna Maria City Pier.
The vote was 4-1 during last Thursday's city commission meeting to green light the project. Anna Maria Commissioner Nancy Yetter dissented.
A $59,780 survey by the Royal Palm Beach-based Bridge Design Associates for the city estimated in early February repairing the pier would cost between $1.4 million and $1.7 million. The highly anticipated draft study conducted in July included inspections above and below water.
According to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, officials had three choices involving the pier.
"One was to do nothing, which the pier according to the engineer would last an
other five years, barring a storm," he said Monday. "And then refurbishing or replacing were two other options left on the table."
By refurbishing, Murphy said officials will be able to keep the City Pier Restaurant at the end of the pier, as well as the bait house.
"If we tear the pier down and start all over, in all likelihood we would not be able to get a permit to put a restaurant out there, due to various federal regulations," the mayor said. "With that in mind, we want to keep our restaurant, we want to keep our bait house. It's part of the ambiance of the pier ... just to have a plain pier sticking out in Tampa Bay with nothing at the end of it other than a place to fish, that did not appeal."
Mayor Murphy said he recommended strongly to the commission they consider rehabilitation over tearing the pier down and rebuilding. He said he will be meeting with Mario Schoenfelder, the tenant of the City Pier Restaurant, this month to discuss the project.
"The decision to replace or rehabilitate is always a difficult choice. Replacement of the entire structure will take the pier out of public use for at least a year during the demolition and reconstruction," the report from Bridge Design Associates states. "Rehabilitation will take portions of the pier out of public use for nine to 12 months."
The firm's assessment concludes the T-head pier around City Pier Restaurant and bait shop/concession area significantly more deteriorated and in poor condition. The report notes "fairly uniform and consistent weathering, shrinking, shakes, checks and splits throughout the area," as well as a large number of the deck boards that were installed heart-side up.
"This promotes decay as it allows standing water to get trapped on the deck surface and accelerates the decay of the wood," the report reads.
Yetter did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.
"To me, number one is you can't replace a historical pier," Commissioner Dale Woodland told the Herald Monday. "The way the rules are, it can't be rebuilt to look like it used to and that's a big deal. It's not just from the standpoint that we can't have the restaurant rebuilt, but we would totally lose a historic pier. It was built in 1910 and finished in 1911, and it's very historic."
Woodland said, from the historic and restaurant perspectives, it was a pretty simple decision to make.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.