The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 21 - February 23, 2011


New spot, same great seafood at fest

Harry Stoltzfus
Seafood, such as local shrimp, above, delighted
huge crowds, below, at the 29th Annual Cortez
Commercial Fishing Festival over the weekend.

CORTEZ – The new location of the 29th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival on the east end of the historic fishing village was a hit.

Lots of shady spots and bayfront breezes cooled down visitors to the festival, which was held under sunny skies in the 70s winter temperatures that draw visitors from near and far.

The festival was held on the east end of the village in its early days, and there's good reason to revive the tradition, with the addition of the Florida Maritime Museum, a recently restored 1912 schoolhouse, several historic buildings that have been relocated around it and the FISH (Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage) Preserve on that end of town.

The $2 admission charge benefits FISH and the 95-acre preserve on Sarasota Bay, a barrier between development and the village, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors enjoyed the nautical art exhibits, a mechanical bull ride, films about Cortez, live music, a rock climbing wall, petting zoo, marine environmental displays and informative talks about local history.

The favorite and the reason for it all? Fresh local seafood, much of it caught by commercial fishermen based in Cortez.

Awards were presented to festival volunteers Linda Molto, Rick Viera, Bob Landry, Patty Banyas and the Cortez Kitchen by FISH treasurer Jane von Hahmann.

"Cortez is unique," she said. "It's the best example of our maritime culture."

State likely to renourish beaches

BRADENTON BEACH – Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker addressed the city commission last Thursday about the renourishment projects planned for this year on beaches in the city of Anna Maria and at Coquina and Cortez Beaches. He also dispelled some doubt about whether his three-pronged attack on eroded beaches would fall by the wayside because of state and federal budget cuts.

"Manatee County has positioned itself up the list for state dollars," he said, after restating the projects to be done this year are already funded. "The state has to prioritize projects, which number around 50 to 55, and Anna Maria Island is rated number four.

"The president's budget still has Anna Maria Island's renourishments in it," he added. "When the Republicans reworked the budget, it survived. You can never predict if the money will be there, but Manatee County is in the best position to receive some of those funds."

Hunsicker said the beaches on tap this year would be renourished between March 1 and May 1 and then he explained why this renourishment would be important.

"In the winter, large waves come in and pull the sand out where it is deposited in a sandbar offshore," he said. "In the summer, the wind and water drag the sand back onshore.

"Beaches come and beaches go, but on Anna Maria Island, we have a net loss of sand," he said. "In fact, Anna Maria's beaches are among the most eroded in the state."

Hunsicker said they plan to put 169,000 cubic feet of sand along 5,075 feet of shore in Coquina Beach. He explained why the county favors investing money in a renourished beach.

"We did a survey earlier and for every dollar we spend on renourishment, nine dollars come back in the form of tourism and taxes," he said.

Hunsicker said it would take about a week to pump the sand onto the beach in the city of Anna Maria. He said when they come back to renourish all the beaches on the Island in 2015, they will do all of Coquina Beach as well. He then spoke about a badly worn jetty near the south end of the Island.

"It was built in 1957 and sand goes through it now," he said. "If we fill it in to stop the sand, it would stop the formation of deltas at Longboat Pass."

He said fixing the jetty would be costly and they want to research it more. Until then, they will use a long geo-tube to catch sand and hold it onto the beach before filling the jetty in 2015. The jetty is to the south of the popular surfing spot known as twin piers and is not part of those structures.

Wedding fest takes center stage

HOLMES BEACH – The parking lot at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce will become very crowded this weekend as hundreds of people will begin their strolling tour of businesses that are ready to help make their wedding on the Island the best.

The fourth annual Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival offers live entertainment, fashion shows, cake tastings, wine and food samplings, mock weddings, photo sessions, hair and makeup demonstrations and vendor giveaways. The main offering however, is information on where and how couples can use the natural beauty of the Island and its beaches for their special day.

This year, the festival has been expanded to include a welcome party in the chickee hut at Gulf Drive Café on Saturday, Feb. 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. The full event begins the next day, Sunday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to the sunset celebration finale at the Sandbar restaurant at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $7 per person in advance and $10 at the door. For those who see a wedding in your family in the future, the wedding festival is something that would be very helpful. The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting the festival, bills the Island as the Beach Wedding Capital of Florida, and this festival will give first-timers a good idea of why that is so.

For more information, contact Deb Wing at the Chamber at 778-1541.

First Friday Fest fantastic

Bayfest band Bootleg
As Human Condition performed, kids played in the
field in front of the stage.

ANNA MARIA – Maybe it was because the weather was so great or it might have been because it was the end of a long week. Whatever the reason, the first Friday Music Festival of the season was a huge success with a large crowd ready to party.

As the sun headed west and the temperature started to drop out of that shorts and T-shirt zone, the Island Rockers took the stage playing the oldies that their folks taught them. This local group of preteens has what it takes to get the crowd's feet tapping.

As the dinner hour approached, the food servers got busy. There was barbecue from T&L's serving whole plates and from Homie's serving Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches. Paradise Café served hot dogs and chili, and The Waterfront served grouper tacos. Others included Philly's Finest featured stromboli, cheese steak sandwiches, sticky buns and baked goods, while Tyler's Ice Cream and Miller Snack foods sold what their names implied.

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce served a variety of beverages and the arts and crafts vendors seemed to attract a lot of lookers and buyers. Sissy Quinn and Barbara Sato sold Anna Maria City Pier Centennial T-shirts and pendants plus tickets to a pendant raffle. Bob and Susan Vanorsdel, of Holmes Beach, took home the raffled pendant.

As the sun started to set, the music picked up with the eclectic sound of the Human Condition. Kids were burning the calories chasing each other and dancing in front of the stage.

DJ and emcee Chris Grumley took over after Human Condition left and as Bootleg set up. The crowd started to cheer as the local band that is making a name in other areas of the state and the Caribbean began to play. The kids gave way to people dancing and the grownup party began.

Thanks went out from the Chamber, which put on the event; to the sponsors, the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and the Anna Maria Island Sun; Miller Electric, which provided the power for the event; and BOC Productions, which set up and managed the sound system. It was another great event put together with the cooperation of those businesses and their volunteers. The next Friday Music Festival will be held on March 19 at the field on the corner of Norht Bay Boulevard and Pine Avenue.

Green Village making history

From left, Skip Vermilyea and Jack Burden,
of Raindrop Cisterns, explain that the system
would capture water to be used in the building
and also supplement the irrigation on the property.

ANNA MARIA – Not only does the Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue being developed by Lizzie Vann and Mike Thrasher feature historic buildings, it also is making history with its green innovations.

"In Florida, it will be the first LEED platinum building and the first net zero energy complex, which will generate as much energy on site as will be consumed in a given year," explained Raymond Kaiser, director of Green Building Services for Stewart Engineering, which is providing the LEED guidance and is the engineering firm for the project.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

On Friday morning, the complex was the first stop on a tour of green sites by members of FARE, the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy, FARE Executive Director Mike Antheil said.

"FARE is the largest trade association for renewable energy in the state," Antheil explained. "Our objective is to create jobs and grow local economies through renewable energy and energy efficient development."

A team effort

As the crowd assembled at tour the site, Vann Thrasher thanked the team that is making it possible – contractor Dan Gagne, engineer Lynn Townsend Burnett, Village retail manager Kate Wight, architect Gene Aubry, solar expert Tom Stockebrand and Kaiser.

The site includes the 1913 Rosedale Cottage and the 1935 Sears Cottage, moved from another location on the street. Vann Thrasher said she plans to open the buildings in six weeks, but has not finalized what businesses that will be located there.

"This site is about the future, but has an interest in the past. This was Will Bean's home when he met with Charles Roser to create the Anna Maria Beach Company to develop Anna Maria," Vann Thrasher said.

"This was the beginning of Anna Maria, but we have a new beginning – we want to be the first net zero energy building in Florida. We want to have an interpretive center here, so people can come and see what they can do."

"What makes this project sustainable is location. It's walkable, and the trolley stops just outside the door," Kaiser pointed out.

Kaiser said the materials in the Rosedale Cottage are either being reused or recycled and noted, "When you retrofit an old building, there's more labor involved, so it creates jobs."

Site tour

The first stop on the site tour was a well being drilled for the geothermal heat pumps. Mike King, of Symbiont Service, Corp., said pumps would transfer water from one well, and then it would go through a heat exchange and be pumped back into a discharge well.

Geothermal heating and cooling taps into the renewable solar energy from the sun's rays that's stored in the ground and provides savings from 50 to 70 percent on utility bills.

The second stop was the cistern system being installed by Raindrop Cisterns. Jack Burden, of Raindrop, said the system would capture water to be used in the building and also supplement the irrigation on the property.

He said the system also would capture the property's stormwater, reducing runoff, and a second cistern system using bladder technology would store water for future use.

"There is no water waste," he pointed out. "They'll use every drop that falls on the property. It protects the natural environment and is not demanding of the water utility."

Rex James, of Eco Technologies, said his company installed photo voltaic cells at Beach Bums across the street, and power generated there is being brought to the Village. Photo voltaic cells convert solar light photons into electricity. Both buildings in the Village also will have photo voltaic cells installed on their roofs to power the site.

Grassy Point getting attention
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The path around the perimeter of the Grassy Point
upland is lined with trunks of the exotics that were removed.

HOLMES BEACH – The 35 acres of environmentally sensitive wetland along Sarasota Bay called Grassy Point is getting new life thanks to the city's beautification board.

Grassy Point is located along the east side of Gulf Drive across from Publix and the Anna Maria Island Center. It is the last significant undeveloped waterfront parcel in the city and includes red and black mangroves, tidal flats, oyster bars, a tidal estuarine creek and seagrass beds.

In 1999, the city received state funding to acquire the preserve and completed the purchase of a 35-acre portion in 2001. There were two holdouts – the owner of two lots on Avenue C at the preserve's entrance and the southern 12 acres, which still remain in private hands.

The city had great plans to provide open space and passive recreational and educational opportunities in the preserve, but amenities are expensive and money has been tight.

Enter the beautification board, with its new mission of finding funding for some of these amenities. Members met last week to discuss applying for a Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Bay Partners Grant.

Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes said his department plans to establish a three-to-four-vehicle parking lot, which can be accessed from Avenue C.

"In that same area we want to have two to three picnic tables, garbage containers and a bicycle rack for the preserve located right at the beginning of the path," Duennes told the board.

Project wish list

Duennes said the city has delineated a nature trail around the upland portion of the preserve using the tree trunks left from the exotic removal. Plans include a boardwalk from the end of the upland portion to Anna Maria Sound with an observation tower midway and an observation deck at the end.

Another boardwalk, which will connect with the nature trail, is planned over the wetland portion of the project along East Bay Drive. This boardwalk must be approved by the Florida Department of Transportation.

"All this is significant money," Duennes said.

Member Melissa Snyder asked if the exotics have grown back, and Chair Fred Heger asked if additional plants are needed.

Duennes said his department spends about 10 days every spring removing exotics and that more plants could be used along the nature trail and inside the loop.

The $3,000 SBEP grant includes bay education and restoration and bay-friendly landscapes, and Snyder suggested they apply for it to purchase plants, remove exotics and install signage. The others agreed.

Board members said they need letters of support for the grant from city businesses and residents. Letters should be addressed to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, but sent to city hall at 5801 Marina Drive.

Duennes said next on his wish list are shell for the nature trail and the boardwalk and observation deck and tower. He estimates the cost at $350,000.

Nearby Fluke property for sale
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Fluke property is behind sign at
the end of 29th Street in Holmes Beach.


HOLMES BEACH – At the southern end of the Grassy Point area is the property owned by Robert Fluke and Lori Hostetter, which is now for sale.

This property at 2902 Avenue A was in the news in 2002, when its owners wanted to build a home there. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said that in order to build, they would have to mitigate for the loss of 3,100 square feet of wetlands.

The pair approached the city commission and offered $3,125 for restoration of wetlands at Grassy Point as mitigation. The commission refused the request saying that to allow fill to be placed on those lots to create buildable lots that don't exist would defeat the purpose of the comprehensive plan.

According to the overview from the real estate agent, the property contains two 50- by 100-foot lots with a buildable area of 3,500 square feet and a conservation area of 6,500 square feet. The asking price is $120,000.

Building Department Clerk Susan Lonzo said the city does not determine if the property is buildable.

"If it's a legally platted lot and the owner can provide documentation that says he can build on it, then he can," explained Lonzo. "When he provides plans to the city, he has to provide engineering documentation that says the land will support the structure."

Pier centennial celebration countdown is on

ANNA MARIA — The official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the city pier is only three months away, and a committee charged with planning the event has kicked into high gear.

At a Feb. 14 meeting, there were reports on some of the aspects of the plan.

The Anna Maria Privateers will be leading the kickoff on Friday evening, May 13, with a parade along Gulf Drive from CrossPointe Fellowship with a turn on Pine down to the city pier itself.

An honor guard will greet the parade participants at the pier.

The next day, Pine Avenue will be closed to traffic as will the humpback bridge on Crescent and the one on North Bay.

Ed Chiles will be hosting an event billed as Food and Wine on Pine, which he hopes will be an annual happening to raise money for charities.

"We have 15 food vendors, and we may go to as many as 25," said Caryn Hodge of the Chiles Group. "We have 15 wine distributers who will be at pouring stations.

"We're also going to have maybe 10 to 15 people in period costume roaming through the festival."

Hodge said those people in costume will stop periodically and do monologs or brief dialogs.

"We found out that Carolyne Norwood had written a number of plays about the history of the Island that were actually produced some years ago," she noted. "She's letting us use them, and she provided us with copies of the scripts."

Art activities planned

Invited artists are going to set up all along Pine Avenue. Jane Coleman and Tina Fusaro have been working with Cultural Connections to organize that aspect of the celebration.

"It's finally all coming together," Coleman told members of the committee. "All the art will be juried and divided into categories. We'll have clusters of artists, artists on some porches and some artists will be working inside."

Coleman said there will be about 40 invited artists displaying their wares, and members of a plein air group will be demonstrating their way of painting outside.

The artists are being charged a $50 fee to participate with the proceeds from the entry fees going to help fund the Food and Wine on Pine part of the celebration.

"There will also be a Tom Sawyer fence," Coleman announced. "The art that children produce during the day will be displayed on the fence."

History highlighted

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society is planning a day of demonstration of period crafts at the Island Historical Museum.

There will be a rug maker, a soap maker, beekeeper chair caner, broom maker, butter maker, felter, spinner and weaver and quilting all demonstrating their crafts.

AMIHS is also organizing a self-guided tour of historic sites inthe city.

Jean Blackburn plans to have cracker horses on hand. Those horses had become almost extinct, but people interested in the breed have been working to bring the breed back.

The horses are named for the whips the old cow-catchers cracked over their heads as they rounded up cattle.

A fabric art piece created by Albertine Veenstra commemorating the pier centennial is on display at the AMI Chamber of Commerce. That quilt is being raffled off as a fundraiser for the festival. Tickets are available at the museum at one for $5 or five for $20.

Centennial T-shirts are on sale at the museum and at J&J Graphics for $10.

A limited edition pier centennial pendant is available at the museum and Ginny's and Jane E.'s for $100.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper