The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 18 - February 2, 2011


Renourishment uncertain

Harry Stoltzfus

ANNA MARIA — City commissioners were expecting a brief report at their Jan. 27 commission meeting from the county on the possibilities of funding for a small strip of bay shore on the city's northeast side.

Instead, they heard a caution about funding sources during a 90-minute overview of all renourishment projects planned and scheduled for Anna Maria Island over the next several years. Charlie Hunsicker, the director of the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources and Rick Spadoni, vice president and senior engineer with Coastal Engineering laid out the scenario.

Funding security

Several times during the presentation, Hunsicker cautioned commissioners that the funding for all these projects is not entirely guaranteed.

In the past, the county has secured renourishment funding from the federal and state governments. One penny of each tourist bed tax dollar is set aside for the local portion of the renourishment projects.

"This is a tough economy," Hunsicker cautioned. "Discretionary funding is being severely cut at the federal and state level. Nothing is guaranteed. Renourishment is discretionary funding. Discretionary funding is not guaranteed."

Some of the funding is already in place, however, including the money to begin with two smaller projects in about six weeks.

Timetable for projects

2011 – The first of the planned renourishment events is slated to begin in about six weeks.

"Sand will be pulled from the same borrow pit we've used in the past," Spadoni said.

Spadoni's firm is the largest coastal renourishment engineering company in the United States, and Spadoni has been the engineer on every renourishment project that has taken place on Anna Maria Island.

"We'll lay some down at Coquina Beach," he added. "This is a seriously eroded section, and it's important to protect Gulf Drive. "

That portion should take about about six weeks.

The county also is pursuing state permits to replace the three aging rock and concrete groins at Coquina with adjustable, permeable groins - similar to those recently built in Longboat Key – that allow water to flow through, reducing erosion, thus helping to protect Gulf Drive.

2012 – A small section to the Gulf side of Bean Point will be getting sand from the borrow pit over which the Port Dolphin natural gas pipeline will run.

"We went around and around about that," Hunsicker said. "Move the pipeline; find other sand; move the pipeline. Finally someone said, 'Move the sand.'"

So the sand will be pumped out before the pipeline is laid down and that little section of beach will be stabilized with sand.

Additional sand will be pumped from out of the pipeline's path into the borrow pit that has traditionally been used for AMI projects.

Also planned for 2012 is an artificial reef offshore of Coquina Beach.

At the same time, the beach sand will be replenished in Anna Maria in a strip of shoreline that runs between Elm and Oak.

2015 – In 2015, the main, or central section of the beach will be renourished. This will be roughly the same area that was first renourished in 1992.

"We weren't too happy with the sand that time, but this time, we will get the white sugar sand," Hunsicker said. "The renourishment area will go a little further north and all the way south to Coquina."

A groin that will trap sand that's currently being swept into Longboat Pass will also be constructed in 2015

. "That pass is a very dynamic area, and the currents are exceptionally strong," Spadoni stated. "That sand is swept out with the tides and then back in on an incoming tide. You can see the buildup off to the east of the pass on the Longboat side."

North bay area

The bad news of the evening was that there is no funding for the bayside area in Anna Maria that runs from Bean Point to the Rod & Reel Pier.

"We know that area is seriously eroded," Spadoni said. "It used to be connected by Passage Key, but that's almost entirely underwater. You can only see it sometimes at very low tide."

The Key used to moderate the waters flowing through Anna Maria Pass, a current that Spadoni said is the strongest in the state.

"You get that water from the pass coming around closer to the Island now, and it scours that section of the bay," he said.

Putting sand down would be futile, according to Spadoni.

"Any sand you put there would be swept away, unless you protect it," he said.

The protection, which would include T-groins and renourishment, would cost an estimated $4,815,0000.

"That money just isn't there," Hunsicker said. "And even if we could find the money, with surveying, engineering studies and permitting, we're looking at 15 years out before we could lay the first grain of sand."

Hunsicker outlined an interim solution using Geotextile tubes for erosion control that would cost about $850,000.

"But I don't know where the money would come from," he said.

Home invasion suspects flee area
Carol Whitmore


HOLMES BEACH - The car stolen from a Holmes Beach resident in a home invasion on Tuesday, Jan. 25, has been recovered in Roanoke, Va.

Holmes Beach Police Detective Mike Leonard said the two women suspected in the forced entry and burglary are no longer in the area, for those who are concerned that it could happen again here. Police released a photo of two suspects on Thursday, Jan. 27, but Leonard said they are sure those suspects are no longer in the state.

The home invasion took place around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25, in the 4900 block of Second Avenue. The victim, who is 69 years old, said two dark-complexioned females forced their way into her home by pushing the door open when she opened the door. They bound and covered the victim's head, took jewelry and money from her and fled in her 2007 blue Hyundai Tucson SUV. The victim, who suffered bumps and contusions, freed herself after the suspects left and asked a nearby construction crew to call police. She was not hospitalized.

One of the suspects is shorter than the other with possible face piercings on the lower lip. The taller of the suspects has longer hair. Both were wearing knit hats and one was wearing green cargo pants cut off below the knee. Both appeared to be homeless.

Anybody with information on the two suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-634-TIPS (8477) or Holmes Beach Police Det. Mike Leonard at 708-5804, ext. 243.

History, great food, great music at Cortez fest

CORTEZ – The 29th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on Feb. 19 and 20 will celebrate historic Cortez, one of the last remaining working fishing villages in Florida.

Commercial fishing historically was one of the twin pillars of Manatee County's economy, along with agriculture, according to John M. Stevely, one of the festival's original organizers and a speaker at the festival.

Despite obstacles, including the longline ban, the gill net ban and other restrictions, the pioneering spirit of Cortez continues with two working fish houses providing grouper, mullet, stone crab, baitfish and other seafood to local and international markets, he said.

The two-day fishing festival gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about commercial fishing and its history with informal talks and maritime exhibits.

Other activities will include live music, nautical arts and crafts, kids' games and famous Cortez seafood.

Bands include the Manatee River Bluegrass Band, which has shared the stage with Bill Monroe, the Osborne Bothers, Tony Rice and the locally famous Poindexter Band, Cortezian Eric von Hahmann, Cortezian Soupy Davis and his band, Dr. Dave Band, Loretta James Band, Billy Rice Band, Raising Cane, Gumbo Boogie Band, Andrew Eddy, Brian Smalley, Mike Jurgensen, Terry Blauvelt, the Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers and soul R coaster.

Proceeds from each festival support the purchase and restoration of 95 acres of mangrove wetlands immediately east of the village, the FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) Preserve.

The festival has achieved international recognition, gaining the endorsement of famed ocean explorer Jean-Michele Cousteau.

This year, the event is moving to the eastern end of the village, next to the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. Festival goers can park free in the FISH Preserve parking area, accessible from Cortez Road. Remote parking with shuttle bus transportation will be available in the Cortez Commons parking lot at the corner of Cortez Road and 59th Street West in Bradenton and at Coquina Beach Bayside on Anna Maria Island. Shuttle buses cost $1 each way. Admission is $2 for adults with kids under 12 free. For more information, visit

Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival Music Schedule

Saturday Feb. 19 Stage 1
10 a.m. soul R coaster
11:30 a.m. Gumbo Boogie Band
12:30 p.m. Awards and Introductions
1 p.m. Eric von Hahmann
2:30 p.m. Raising Cane
4 p.m. Billy Rice Band

Saturday Feb. 19 Stage 2
10 a.m. Andrew Eddy
11 a.m. Eric von Hahmann
12:30 p.m. Brian Smalley
1:45 p.m. Cortez Motley Crew & St. Pete Shanty Singers
2:30 p.m. Andrew Eddy
4 p.m. Eric von Hahmann

Sunday Feb. 20 Stage 1
10 a.m. Manatee River
Bluegrass Band
11:30 a.m. Soupy Davis
and his Band
1 p.m. Eric von Hahmann
2:30 p.m. Dr. Dave Band
4 p.m. Loretta James Band

Sunday Feb. 20 Stage 2
10 a.m. Main Hatch Motley Sea Shanty Singers
11 a.m. Eric von Hahmann
12:30 p.m. Mike Jurgensen
1:30 p.m. Andrew Eddy
3 p.m. Eric von Hahmann
4 p.m. Terry Blauvelt

County chooses vendor for Segway tours, rentals

Bayfest band Bootleg
Jeff Kirkwood, a manager for Segs by the Sea, poses with
one of the vehicles they will rent to people taking
tours of Coquina Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Coquina Beach Trail, although a pathway for non-motorized vehicles such as baby buggies and bicycles, will soon see people on electric powered two wheelers known as Segways learning more about the flora and fauna at the beach.

The Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department has chosen a vendor to rent the popular machines for people to ride while learning more about the area. Segs by the Sea, 9908 Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, will soon be renting to people who will ride them on the trail in the southern part of the Island and over to Leffis Key, on the other side of Gulf Drive.

"They will meet their customers at the (Coquina) park and tour the park," said Mike Whelan, Parks and Recreation's director of Programs and Policy.

Whelan said they sent out a request for bids on the franchise and Segs by the Sea beat the other applicant that replied. He said the county wanted to find a good operator who would make sure the experience is a good one for the public.

"We went through the process to identify qualified tour operators and ensure the safety of the public," he said. "They will have exclusive rights to rent Segways for tours there."

Whelan said that people who own Segways or rent them from other dealers would be free to use the trail at their own risk.

Jeff Kirkwood, a manager for Segs by the Sea, said it might expand to make it easier to get its machines to the park.

"We're looking to open another shop on Bridge Street," he said, noting that current plans don't include moving the entire operation there.

Kirkwood said they are talking with Advantage Consultants to provide wildlife biologists to lead tours of the area. Whelan said that was part of the agreement they made with United Park Services to run the concession stands at Manatee County Beach and Coquina Beach. He said if they reach an agreement on the details with Segs by the Sea, tours will begin in late March.

For information on Segs by the Sea, call 941-209-5970.

Friday Fest returns

ANNA MARIA – If you live here or were here last winter and spring, you'll know that the expression "Thank goodness it's Friday" (TGIF) takes on new meaning whenever there's a Friday Fest.

Instead of going to a stuffy restaurant in your work clothes to celebrate the end of the work week, come on out and do it Island style. Get out of those stuffy work clothes and into your weekend wear. Come on down to the field at the corner of Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard on Friday, Feb. 18, from 5 to 10 p.m. and get the attitude adjustment you need for your weekend. Two local bands will provide the live music: Human Condition from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Bootleg from 7 to 10 p.m. The field is a great place to dance, for those who have romance on their minds.

The Island Music Festival, aka Friday Fest, is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, the Anna Maria Historical Society and the Island Sun. Chris Grumley will emcee, Miller Electric will supply the electrical hookup expertise and BOC Productions will provide the sound system. Proceeds go to the Chamber's scholarship fund, participating Island businesses and local non-profit agencies.

Vendors need to get in touch with organizer Cindy Thompson, this year's Chamber board chair, at, or Chamber President Mary Ann Brockman at 779-9412. There are only 25 vendor spaces and eight food vendor spaces. Food vendors need to turn in their menu choices to Thompson so they don't duplicate each other.

The music for this Friday Fest and the one after on March 18 is already booked, but musicians and bands can contact this above people to book for the April Friday Fest and for Bayfest in October.

Make plans now to come out and celebrate TGIF the way it should be – on an Island.

Commission OKs film ordinance

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved the first reading of the city's film ordinance last week and are awaiting its review by Elliott Falcione, manager of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

In November, the county adopted an ordinance to establish a one-stop permitting process throughout the county. At the time, City Attorney Patricia Petruff told commissioners it would be effective unless the city adopted its own ordinance.

In December, commissioners asked Petruff to draft something for the city using portions of the county ordinance and portions of a city of Anna Maria ordinance.

"There are some differences between our ordinance and the county's ordinance," Petruff explained to the board at a previous meeting. "For instance some of the definitions are different.

"This ordinance is for all property in the city. The county's is focused on government property. I didn't think you wanted to have two permitting systems."

She said the section on permitting standards, procedures and fees is almost exactly the same as the county's.

"The relevant changes are that the film commissioner has to coordinate with the mayor or his designee on numerous things whereas in the county he has the authority to make those decisions by himself," she pointed out. "I did not give the film commissioner the right to use city equipment."

She said the board should decide if the insurance coverage (bodily injury and property damage) is adequate. It is only required for filming on city-owned property.

Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said it should be raised from $300,000/$1 million to $500,000 and $2 million. The others concurred.

Commissioner Al Robinson asked who has veto power over filming in the city, and Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said it could happen anywhere along the process and be done by him, the building official, the police chief or the fire department.

Activities exempted from the ordinance are individuals filming for their own personal use, employees of the media filming news events with the exception of simulations or reenactments and student/faculty filming for educational purposes unless the number of persons working on the filming exceeds eight.

The commission plans to hold a public hearing and second reading on the ordinance in February.

Cottage moves to Cortez
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The 64-year-old Monroe cottage, formerly at
304 Church St. in Bradenton Beach, was moved
last week to the FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage)
Preserve in Cortez. The cottage will be renovated to
house the new Cortez Family Life Museum.

CORTEZ – Brett Johnson and his sons, Beau and Kyle, were up most of the night on Jan. 25 working to haul the 64-year-old Monroe cottage at 304 Church St. in Bradenton Beach across the Cortez bridge to the FISH Preserve before dawn.

Johnson's chosen target window of 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. proved auspicious, as rain and wind buffeted the area both before and after the move. The cottage and its escort of heavy equipment made it over the bridge and onto the preserve without incident in about half an hour, clearing power lines and traffic lights on a low profile trailer.

In its new waterfront setting on a drainage pond, the cottage will be renovated to house the new Cortez Family Life Museum, originally planned for the 1890s Bratton store behind the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez. The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board made the switch because the two-story store would have required the installation of an elevator, destroying part of the store, while the one-story cottage will be accessible to disabled visitors, according to FISH board member Allen Garner.

The Cortez historic overlay district will be extended to include the cottage site so that it can be installed at its traditional elevation, instead of having to comply with flood plain requirements that would necessitate lifting it several feet high, he said.

The cottage was donated by the City of Bradenton Beach, which needed the land for a parking lot.

The Cortez Village Historical Society, which will create the Family Life Museum, paid $8,000 to move the cottage, C.V.H.S. founder Mary Fulford Green said.

The museum will feature a Wall of Honor for Cortez military veterans, and will house Cortez photos, she said, as well as historic household items, among them, her 62-year-old wedding dress.

The museum requests donations of photographs, a washstand, china cabinet and other items for display space. Call Dr. Green at 795-7121 to donate.

The birth of the public beaches
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

People came from Sarasota and Tampa to pariticipate in
'the annual Beachcomber Fairs, which began in 1952. The straw
hats worn by people in the wagon were a signature
of event organizers.

Manatee County's first public beach in Holmes Beach was created in 1947 by a special legislative act and ratified by voters. A tax of one mil was to be levied for five years to purchase the property and construct a building.

The clear blue water and sparkling white sand attracted hundreds of bathers, creating a need for facilities, and in 1951, the Public Beach Commission (PBC) asked the county commission to advertise for bids.

The 80- by 38-foot building was to include restrooms, lockers, showers and a small concession stand, and the cost was estimated at $18,000. The roof would be a sundeck and would overhang the sidewalk. It was dubbed the Beach House.

Future plans included an auditorium, restaurants, a swimming pool, and pier which would be a combination of groin and recreational.

The public beach pavilion was officially dedicated on Dec. 16, 1951, at 3 p.m. and the fun began. It became the focal point of community gatherings such as fish fries, club meetings and activities that attracted people from Sarasota and Tampa.

Beachcomber Fair, 1952

One of the most popular events was the annual Beachcomber Fair, the first of which began with a minstrel show on Thursday at the Anna Maria Community Hall (Island Playhouse), then moved to the public beach. The weekend featured children's games, food, a fishing contest, dancing on the roof, bands, a baby parade and a boat race.

According to the local newspaper, "Watch the youngsters have the time of their lives with the greased pole, pie-eating contest, obstacle race, spoon race, sack race, target throwing, broad jump and foot race. Eat, drink and be merry as you can. Swim, sing and dance! Chat with friends. Greet strangers.

"The Lion's Club with the finest barbecue chef on the west coast, Melvin Davis, will see to your basic hunger, which will be topped off with pies and cake under the care of President Mrs. Clark, of the Women's Club, and her host of faithful helpers.

"There will be dancing at night on Friday and Saturday. The latest fad from the swank spots is surf dancing. Girls wear bicycle shorts or pedal pushers, boys roll up their pants and barefooted they dance on the edge of the tide. More orthodox dancers will find the roof of the Beach House has been polished and waxed for the occasion."

Open every day

In October of 1952, the PBC voted to open the beach every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Previously, the beach was open only on weekends after Labor Day. The PBC also voted to enlarge the kitchen and plumbing facilities.

In January of 1953, the county commission approved an extension of the roof deck, which was completed in August. It included a screened patio off the concession stand for "lunching and loafing and social gatherings."

The fun continued with an Island Carnival to coincide with the opening of the Sunshine Skyway in 1954 with a baseball game, dances, a circus, a bathing beauty contest, a fishing tournament and water skiing demonstrations. Motels and rental units offered a special weekend family rate of $15.

The Island Kiwanis Club took over management of the facility in March, and in November, it bought a piano for the pavilion and installed a heater to take the chill off winter days and evenings. In December, the beach became the site of the Island Christmas party where Santa handed out toys, candy, fruit and ice cream to 300 to 400 children.

Beach controversy

The PBC created a controversy in 1954, when it approved the location of a Negro public beach at the south end of the Island. Delegates from the Negro Civic and Businessman's League of Manatee County also approved the concept.

However, the Island Chamber of Commerce and residents of Bradenton Beach vehemently opposed the idea. In fact, residents of the city opposed any public beach.

According to a July 8 newspaper article, "We are all good Americans here. We do not want to deprive any citizen of any rights because of race, color or creed. This is not a question of segregation or not. We want no public beach of any kind in the city of Bradenton Beach," Mayor Jack Jones said at a city council meeting filled with about 160 angry citizens with another 63 peering through doors and windows.

Jones continued, "There is no more dangerous place to swim within 100 miles than around the pass between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key. It is highly hazardous. There are strong tides, dangerous currents and powerful undertow."

By July 15, the PBC had abandoned its attempt to develop a segregated beach at the south end.

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