There’s a new use for the planks that once made up the boardwalk on historic island pier

Upcycle engraved iconic pier planks into decorative fence? It’s an idea.

The City of Anna Maria Island is trying to think of ways to use the engraved planks from the iconic pier which is undergoing reconstruction. One idea is a decorative fence.
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The City of Anna Maria Island is trying to think of ways to use the engraved planks from the iconic pier which is undergoing reconstruction. One idea is a decorative fence.

Nearly two years after the Anna Maria City Pier was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma, planks that once made up the boardwalk will once again be on display.

The planks will be up-cycled and reused as part of a fence or memorial wall around two sides of City Pier Park, a prototype of which was presented to Anna Maria City Commissioners on Thursday night by Mayor Dan Murphy.

The fence will be in 10-foot sections with planks on both sides on the perimeter of the park.

“People used to go out on the pier and look for their names and now they can do it in the park,” Commissioner Amy Tripp said.

Murphy said the reactions he’s gotten about it so far are positive.

Cost, excluding labor, if the fence were to encompass the park is estimated at $2,000 and would come from the city’s general fund, Murphy said.

“I like it, I think it’s a good use of those. Not intrusive,” Commissioner Doug Copeland said.

Commissioners gave the go-ahead for the two sides to be completed.

Previously, city commission considered the idea of a memorial wall made of the planks and offered offered plank owners a chance to pick up the planks if they did not want to participate. About 200 planks were requested and delivered over the span of a few months, Murphy said.

He estimated there were more than 1,000 planks in total before some were returned.

“I’d like to get these planks back out in the public eye as soon as possible,” commission chair Brian Seymour said.

There may be planks left over after the two sides are completed, and commissioners left the opportunity to add to the fence in the future, as well as a sign, open.

Hurricane Irma ripped the roof from the restaurant and bait shop at the t-end of the pier in September 2017. Once the damage was discovered, the pier was closed. City commissioners voted in October 2017 to rebuild. The pier was demolished in the summer of 2018.

“It’s really an iconic place. A historic place. It’s a landmark not only for the city but the west coast of Florida,” Murphy said.

The construction of the new pier and the shell of the building that will hold the restaurant and bait shop should be ready in December or January, Murphy said. The building’s tenants will complete the inside.

As of Thursday, Murphy said they were head of schedule, pending the weather.

“It’s more than excitement, it’s more ‘Are we there yet’?” Murphy said. “We’re very pleased, really a quality product we have so far.”

Seymour previously said the new pier should look similar to the one that previously stood in its place.

The structure of the new pier will be mostly concrete, and will be covered in Ipe, a Brazilian wood that is more durable and sustainable, Seymour previously said, giving it the appearance of a wooden pier.

The $4.5 million reconstruction project is set to receive $435,000 from the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, along with $1.5 million in resort tax funds the Manatee County Commission and the city received $750,000 in state historical grants.

The state budget signed this year allocated $285,000 toward the reconstruction, Manatee County.

But the project suffered a $869,000 budget shortfall when FEMA rescinded a $1 million grant that was to be used to help build the new pier, but FEMA backed out when the work began before the execution of the agreement.

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Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.