Lakewood Ranch Herald

Fort Hamer rowing facility on track

MANATEE -- A county training facility for competitive rowing at Fort Hamer is expected to be completed in December, in time for the January arrival of college teams from Harvard University and Notre Dame.

The rowing facility sits along the Manatee River, just north of neighborhoods such as Waterlefe and Mill Creek and just south of Parrish.

At the same time, Benderson Development is developing what it says will be a world-class rowing center on the southwest corner of Interstate 75 and University. It estimates that with 10 regattas a year, it could attract 10,000 out-of-region attendees.

“We want to try to get some business for Mana- tee County,” County Com- missioner Carol Whitmore said. “Manatee Country is trying to capture some of that.”

Manatee County commissioners will get a status report on the Fort Hamer project during a workshop Tuesday morning.

Benderson’s master concept plan for its rowing facility estimates visitors would spend $10 million annually on hotel rooms, restaurants and other visitor needs.

The master plan for the Fort Hamer facility -- called Hidden Harbor Park, located adjacent to Rive Isle Run and Fort Hamer Road -- shows a boat house, playground, picnic and barbecue area, restrooms and trails.

In addition to being able to train in the Manatee River, teams will be able to secure their boats at Fort Hamer.

Donna Hayes, county commission chair, says the training facility will offer more of a park atmosphere for local residents who want to watch team training.

Among those scheduled to brief commissioners on the rowing facility are Dave Gustafson, project manager from the planning department; and Paul Blackketter, project manager for Benderson Development.

In other business at the workshop:

n Commissioners are scheduled to get an update on the Longboat Key trolley.

To keep the trolley running, Manatee County has committed to putting up $200,000, to go along with $300,000 from Sarasota County, and $100,000 from Longboat Key.

Hayes and Whitmore said they have not heard if Longboat Key will kick in their $100,000.

Longboat Key Mayor George Spol, the Herald previously reported, has said Manatee County should come up the $100,000.

But that’s probably not going to happen, given the low ridership of the trolley, and the county’s tight budget.

County administrator “Ed Hunzeker met with me last week,” Whitmore said. “It’s not going to be a pretty year. We have to make ends meet and nobody can ask for increases. We can’t make any more financial commitments unless we can find out where we’re taking the money in another area.”

Other transit issues expected to be discussed include the regulation of bus stop seating, facility maintenance, customer service and transit projects in the works.

n Commissioners will discuss a request from Manasota Goodwill to develop an ordinance regulating collection boxes for clothing, shoes and other small items.

While these boxes provide a way for residents to recycle unwanted items, and keep them out of the landfill, Manasota Goodwill says many of the boxes are run by for-profit companies, and are diverting donations that might otherwise go to nonprofits.


What: Manatee County Commission workshop

When: 9 a.m. Tuesday

Where: the Manatee Room, fourth floor, County Administration Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W.