The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 34 - June 18, 2014


Hotel variance approved

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

joe hendricks | sun

As viewed from the Gulf, Chappie Park is a natural
habitat that residents would like to see cleaned up
for public safety purposes.


BRADENTON BEACH – Members of the Bermuda Bay Club Condominium Association are leading the effort to make public safety improvements to John Chappie Park; and if things go according to plans, the renovations will include a sea turtle education component.

In May, Bermuda Bay Club board member Erica Page presented the city with a check for $5,000 and expressed her hope that the money be used to address safety concerns.

“Recently, there were some concerns about some activity in Chappie Park; there were vagrants camping out in the shrubbery, and people were seen urinating in the park. We brought these concerns to our owners, and because we want to put our money where our mouth is, we have agreed to donate $5,000 to improve the park to deter people from misusing it,” Page told city commissioners.

On behalf of the Tortuga Inn, David Teitelbaum then presented a second check for $3,000.

Commissioner Ed Straight noted that some of the vagrancy problems stem from overgrowth that limits visibility, and Commissioner Jan Vosburgh expressed support for the removal of the non-native trees.

Mayor Bill Shearon said, “The biggest concern is the Australian pines and all the invasive plants that have to be removed. That’s state law, and we won’t be able to get a permit unless those are removed. There’s a lot of people that don’t want trees removed, so that’s going to be a concern, but if anything’s going to be done, that has to be done.”

A plan takes shape

During the recent Capital Improvement Projects Committee (CIP) meeting, Lt. John Cosby presented city commissioners with a park proposal originally developed in 2012.

The plan includes clearing land, laying down some 250-mix sand-shell mix, installing turtle education signs, removing invasive trees and plants and replacing them with native species, installing benches, repopulating the seaward dune and removing the berm along Gulf Drive. There was also talk of incorporating or reconfiguring some dune walkways.

Cosby envisions the park as a place for local students to visit. He also stressed the community’s desire that the area remain in a mostly natural state and not be over-developed.

Straight reiterated that there will likely be some opposition to the removal of the Australian pines. He also said a recent visit to area indicated the possible presence of sea oats, which are a protected species and require state permitting for removal.

The commissioners unanimously agreed to move forward with the turtle-education park concept and to continue with the planning and permitting process.

Shearon said the removal of trees and other invasive plants would cost approximately $4,700. If the city commission decides to level the entire area and start anew, the cost would be closer to $7,500. He made it clear that no work would take place at the site until the sea turtle nesting season ends in October.

Located at 1402 Gulf Drive N., the park is named in honor of County Commissioner and former Bradenton Beach Mayor, John Chappie.

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