Manatee County was spared from the worst of Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
But among the storm’s victims was the historic Anna Maria Pier, which was significantly damaged to the point of it being closed down and eventually demolished in the summer of 2018, with every intention from city officials to have it rebuilt.
Government wheels often move slowly but when funding relies on multiple entities it’s a process “we are happy to have behind us,” said Anna Maria Vice Mayor Brian Seymour.
According to Debbie Haynes, deputy city clerk, the contractor currently has equipment in place to begin installing the pilings for a new pier that should be completed by the end of the year or in early 2020.
“It will be weather conditional, of course, but they are set to go any day now,” Haynes said.
The funding sources were varied to make up the $3.3 million it will cost to rebuild the pier. The Tourist Development Council pitched in about $1.5 million, the city received $750,000 in state historical grants and the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed the city for $1.3 million.
“It was a long process we had to go through between the federal government, the state, the county and all the permitting,” Seymour said.
What hasn’t been funded yet is the former City Pier Restaurant and bait shop. Seymour said the majority of the funding had restrictions and can only be used toward the pier’s reconstruction.
“We are still looking for funding for the bait shop and restaurant,” Seymour said. “We are negotiating with the leaseholder, which that contract expires in 2020. If we stay on target, we are looking at January or February of 2020, so we are in the process negotiating with the same tenant to probably just start a new contact, which would make sense. We also have money in our reserves so we’ll make that happen somehow.”