ANNA MARIA -- The Anna Maria City Pier may be the focus of a new study.
The Manatee County Commission will decide at its meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday whether to enter an interlocal agreement with the city of Anna Maria for the study.
"A Pier Structural Inspection Study is needed for the city of Anna Maria Pier to assess the structural condition of the pier to determine if repairs or maintenance may be required," a meeting agenda states. "This includes the evaluation of existing pier data, above and below water inspection, and preparation of a report detailing the condition of the pier, a range of potential maintenance and/or repairs, and associated costs and time required to perform the repairs."
The study's total cost is $59,780. According to Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, the city would reimburse the county. Both Anna Maria and the county are splitting the study's cost evenly. Chappie said the project has already passed the Tourist Development Council.
"I think it's a good thing," he said Monday. "A lot of the tourist tax dollars are collected out here in the barrier islands and it's an opportunity ... it's a partnership, as it should be, between the cities and the counties."
The county commissioner added that the plan is a reinvestment in the community.
"The pier is the No. 1 attraction in the county, I believe, as far as numbers," Chappie said. "If it's not the No. 1, it's pretty high up there and so it's a wonderful attraction that we have here. ... We don't want to lose it. We want to help to improve it and enhance it and that's what this is all about."
According to Tuesday's meeting agenda, the work is being managed by the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department through their contractual services agreement with CB&I, the county's coastal engineering firm. Also to be discussed at the meeting is a request to adopt a resolution that would amend the annual budget for Manatee County for fiscal year 2014-2015 to cover the cost of the study from tourist development taxes.
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said he has a meeting with Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker in two weeks about the study's details.
"We've done other studies on the pier before, but never one as in depth as this one," he said. "They use sonar, they look to the bottom of the pilings to see if they're secure, they look at erosion, they look at dry rot -- all those types of things that they're going to examine on the pier so it's an architectural/engineering type of review."
The mayor added that it's important.
"That's one of our biggest assets," Murphy said. "In fact, maybe our biggest asset that we have as a city."
Hunsicker described the pier as a regionally famous asset.
"I believe we are putting our best expertise through the consultants assigned to complete the study and will be in an excellent position to identify steps moving forward -- if needed -- to ensure that the pier continues to provide the kinds of recreation and fish enjoyment for generations to come," he said.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.