MANATEE — Harry Blenker stood on the first floor of a half-sunken, derelict floating house at 2 p.m. Monday and looked up as a member of his crew began tearing the roof off with a pry bar.
Blenker, owner of Quality Marine Construction of Palmetto, had just given his men the signal to start what is expected to be a week-long operation to remove the now infamous two-story floating house with the ironic name, “Dreammaker” from where it has been sitting for months in the Manatee River.
The house, which is not technically a houseboat because it has no propulsion of its own, has been lying at a 45-degree angle between spans of the Interstate 75 bridge in Ellenton since storms carried it there.
For a structure that has engendered quite a bit of debate the past few months about why taxpayers have to pay up to $20,000 to have it removed, Dreammaker will disappear rather easily, said crew member Stephen Blenker, 24, Harry’s son.
“We’ll be using pry bars, hammers and chain saws,” Stephen Blenker said. “We will carefully place the debris in bundles that will be picked up off the house with a crane. The crane will load the debris onto a pair of skow barges.”
During daylight hours all during the week, the filled barges can be seen being pushed to shore where they will be emptied onto trucks heading for the landfill, Harry Blenker said.
Vehicles going over the bridge can’t see the operation below due to the height of the sides of the bridge, which might save a few fender-benders or worse.
“There will be no rubbernecking going on,” Stephen Blenker said.
Although Monday’s operation was not out of the ordinary for the crew, which makes its living both building and dismantling, it has been a source of debate since 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.