Demolition of Anna Maria Island City Pier begins
When Nick Perenich arrived for his week-long stay on Anna Maria Island, the first thing he wanted to do was take a stroll down the city pier, and maybe grab a bite to eat at the restaurant.
Instead, he found the pier fenced off as construction workers began demolition on Monday morning.
After Hurricane Irma caused “extensive” damage to the pier in 2017, the city commission voted to tear it down and rebuild it from scratch.
The $3.2 million reconstruction will mimic the original but with “state of the art” material, City Mayor Dan Murphy said. In addition to stronger concrete pilings, the city is considering sustainable features, like solar panels.
The Manatee County Tourist Development Council unanimously voted in December to contribute up to $1.5 million to the project. Other funding will come from the state, the city of Anna Maria and potentially the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The pier is expected to reopen in December 2019, and according to Murphy, everything is moving as scheduled.
To celebrate the pier’s centennial in 2011, the Islander newspaper and City Pier Restaurant sponsored 1,000 memorial planks for anyone to purchase with customized messages carved into the wood.
After Irma, city commissioners were faced with question of what to do with the planks in the wake of the pier’s demolition.
In January, they decided to build a memorial wall out of the planks in the City Pier Park and the Historical Museum Park. Those who did not wish for their planks to be used were allowed to keep them.
The pier was five years away from an upgrade when Irma made landfall in September, Murphy told the Bradenton Herald in October. Now, the pier’s life will be extended by about 75 to 100 years.
Perenich, who lived in the area for most of his childhood, described the pier as a “real landmark” and recalls night fishing and watching dolphins and porpoises swim in the water. He’s been back to visit every summer since he moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1992.
Murphy echoed his sentiments.
“The pier has been the very heart of the city for 100 years,” he said. “We feel empty without her.”
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