The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 10 - December 31, 2014


New year, new sand, new life
Carol Whitmore | sun

Work progresses on a $13.4 million renourishment
project at Egmont Key to battle large-scale erosion of
the historic Isand’s beaches.

EGMONT KEY – New sand is being brought to this small island to build up the beaches where the ruins of historic Fort Dade stand eroding into Tampa Bay and the Gulf.

The sand, which comes from a maintenance dredging in the bay, will be used to extend the beach of this vanishing key and the Army Corps of Engineers plans to put geotextile tubes out into the water from the beaches to slow down the erosion. The Corps awarded a $13.4 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company of Oak Brook, Ill., to perform maintenance dredging of Tampa Harbor along the Egmont and Mullet key channel cuts. The sand dredged from there will go to Egmont Key’s renourishment. The maintenance dredge will remove up to 875,000 cubic yards of sand along 17 miles of channel to improve navigation safety. The Corps predicts the project will be done by early spring, weather permitting.

The first sand is being put down on the north beach, which is the most eroded, according to project engineer Andy Cummings, and it will progress to the western beach.

Workers will be cognizant of the wildlife in and around the water, Cummings said. Sea turtles might be relocated through the use of open trawlers, if there are a lot in the area during the project. Egmont Key is home to gopher tortoises, nesting sea turtles, sea birds and winter migratory birds.

Erosion on the western shoreline has caused a significant loss of beach nesting area for the turtles and wiped out rows of palms that simply fall into the water.

Fort Dade was built in 1899 just after the Spanish American war to defend the bay from possible attack. A lighthouse built in 1858 still stands and remains in use today.

The Corps asks Egmont Key boaters and beach enthusiasts to observe construction signs and use extra caution during dredging operations.

For more park information, go to and click on

Mainsail names hotel project Waterline

HOLMES BEACH – With a name that evokes water lapping against the side of a boat or along the shore, the Waterline hotel, lodge and marina complex will soon change the face of the city’s center.

“I think everybody will like it,” Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Development, said. “It will bring that area to life. I think people will be pleasantly surprised.”

The project, located near the intersection of Marina and Gulf drives, includes a lodge with two wings that feature two-bedroom lodging units, an 80-seat restaurant and meeting rooms; a 50-boat slip marina and a separate building with two-bedroom lodging units.

“Ultimately, we discovered through the branding process for Epicurean (the company’s luxury hotel in Tampa), that a name is important,” Collier explained. “We never thought we would call it Mainsail. We just used that as a placeholder because it’s the name of the company.

“We always wanted to come up with a name that reflects how it fits in with the Island. We hired an agency, worked through names and came up with Waterline. We felt it was a good name for us.”

Collier said the company has secured a demolition permit from the city and has been removing rebar at the site where buildings were modified as part of the settlement agreement and ensuing negotiations with the city.

“We are expecting to begin construction at the end of spring – late March or April,” Collier said. “It will take 14 to 16 months to complete, and we’ll do it all at once. It should open in late summer of 2016.”

The next step will be a final site plan and then construction drawings and technical permits, Collier said. There are no new renderings of the building yet. Because of the modifications, the engineers and architects are still working.

Collier said the name of the Mainsail Beach Inn, at 101 66th Street, will not change. There two- and three-bedroom units in two buildings are being sold as a condo/hotel units and rented as hotel units when not used by the owners.

The projects will allow guests to use amenities at both locations. Renters and guests from the Beach Inn will be able to go the lodge and eat in the restaurant or get a boat, and renters and guests from the lodge will be able to go to the beach at the Beach Inn.

‘Sticker shock’ hits fire board

BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire commissioners questioned the cost and design of a boat that the district plans to purchase with a matching grant from the West Coast Inland Navigational District.

In September, Capt. Ryan Moore presented to the board a detailed report on replacing the district’s boat. Board members approved negotiations with a sole source provider as the only manufacturer that could produce a boat to meet the district’s needs.

However, at the December meeting, Commissioner Randy Cooper said he “has sticker shock” over the nearly $400,000 cost of the boat.

Moore said he used that figure as the worst case in order to apply for the grant and added, “I expect it to be less, but I don’t know how much. There are redundancies and better prices we can get on items like the trailer.”

Deputy Chief Brett Pollock confirmed that and said they had not discussed price with the manufacturer.

Commissioner Al Robinson said there are boats at the lifeguard headquarters in Bradenton Beach, the Coast Guard station in Cortez and the Holmes Beach Police Department and added, “If it won’t save lives and property, it’s a waste of time.”

Fitting the district’s needs

“I was asked to find a boat to best fill our needs,” Moore replied. “I think it will save lives and property. That’s the purpose of the program.”

Robinson asked about the district’s existing boat, and Moore said it is not capable of meeting the district’s medical needs because there is no space to treat patients.

In a September report, Moore said the boat should be capable of both fire and rescue emergencies, have shallow water response capabilities, be aluminum and trailerable and have a jet drive propulsion system that would operate in shallow water and be safer.

Commissioner David Bishop asked if it would give the district “unique response capabilities,” and Moore responded, “Shallow water response is an area that’s not being covered. It provides that, but we also can maintain our current capabilities.”

Incoming Chief Tom Sousa pointed out, “We only have board permission to negotiate with one vendor. We could bring back comparable alternatives plus get information from other agencies that are buying boats.”

Board members agreed to have Sousa present alternatives.

Chief contract

Fire commissioners also approved a contract with Sousa, who will become chief in May 2105 after Fire Chief Andy Price retires. Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale presented the contract, which was reviewed by the board’s attorney, Jim Dye.

She said the effective dates of the contract are May 1. 2015 to April 30, 2018. Three members of the fire commission can terminate it for causes listed in the contract or four members can terminate it without cause.

If Sousa is terminated with cause, there is no severance pay, but if it is without cause, there will be 20 weeks severance pay. There are resignation and extension provisions.

Sousa’s annual salary will be $101,500 from May 1, 2015, to Nov. 30, 2015, and $106,575 for the remainder of the agreement. He will receive a vehicle, which can be used for district business within the state.

Mooney-Portale said Sousa must reside in Manatee or Sarasota counties, and Robinson said Sarasota could be a hour and a half away. Mooney-Portale said that could be the case in Manatee County also.

“I live in Manatee County, and I don’t plan on moving,” Sousa said. “To me that’s irrelevant. Strike it.”

The board approved the contract with that change.

Mar Vista approved for second story

LONGBOAT KEY – Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub has the green light from Longboat Key officials to build a second story deck with outdoor dining.

Over objections by surrounding residents concerned that outdoor dining will increase noise and parking problems, the Planning and Zoning Board gave final approval this month to the Chiles Restaurant Group for a site plan amendment and a special exception to the town’s code to allow the expansion. Other changes at the historic restaurant at 760 Broadway St. will include re-grading the parking area and additional landscaping, according to the site plan.

The second story deck will have 52 seats, to be relocated from the first floor indoor dining room, which will become retail space, Longboat Key Town Planner Steve Schield said, adding that the first floor indoor bar with 12 seats will remain.

With no new seats – the restaurant has 169 – there is no need for more parking spaces, he said.

“Our goal is to keep the original style and fishing shack quality of the Mar Vista Restaurant intact and consistent throughout the redesign,” said Sarasota architect Barron Schimberg, of The Schimberg Group Inc. “Mar Vista has a European feel to it with the openness and the trees, and we don’t want to lose that specialness. The inside is rustic and intimate, and that will remain for patrons to continue to enjoy as a local destination.”

Architectural schematics and civil engineering will begin after the holidays, with a July through November time frame for beginning interior kitchen and building improvements and site compliance, according to Mark Anderson, project manager of development and construction for the Chiles Restaurant Group, adding that the restaurant will remain open during the improvements.

Looking back & looking ahead…

What will you remember about 2014, and what do you look forward to in 2015?

Nancy Ambrose, Holmes Beach:

My favorite memory is celebrating my dad’s 95th birthday. We also adopted a poodle and got involved with Florida Poodle Rescue. Many of us will never forget a magical evening with Symphony on the Sand in the rain, and receiving the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s National ACT Lead Award is something I will never forget.

I look forward to moving into our new home, spending more time with my dad, making strides on cancer issues, working on palliative care bills and continuing the weekly Beach Market at Coquina Beach.

Debra Aplin, Holmes Beach:

“I’ll remember my daughter’s engagement, and I look forward to good health and the birth of my nephew’s first child.

Ed Chiles, Anna Maria:

2014 was about the Gamble Creek Farm; BeachHouse renovations; progress on our wild clams initiative; the wild pig project; and recognition of our Pine Avenue restoration project, heritage seafood initiatives and organic farms.

We look forward to our Mar Vista tree house project; continuing to develop heritage seafood initiatives, sustainable seafood resources and aquaculture projects; and expanding the Pine Avenue organic community gardens with the addition of a model garden in Lakewood Ranch.

Jack Clarke, Bradenton Beach Vice Mayor:

2014 was a year of trials and tribulations for Bradenton Beach, especially the city government. I am hopeful 2015 will bring positive, meaningful results to resolve the many issues we face at city hall.

JB Crawford, Cortez:

I will remember the opening of Cuba, a wonderful country with warm and loving people. In 2015, I look forward to a reconciliation between Republicans and Democrats and responsible government.

Amanda Escobio, Holmes Beach:

I will remember 2014 as the year my mother died suddenly and hiring a live mariachi band for my dad’s 80th birthday. For 2015: watch more sunsets, take deeper breaths and carpe diem!

Suzi Fox, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring:

2014 was our best year for new volunteers. We had 20 new volunteers that worked so hard and were so much fun; normally we have two or three new walkers per year. In 2015, I would like to invite more new walkers to come join us on the nesting beaches.

Gillian Kendall, Holmes Beach:

I met the love of my life, brought her to Anna Maria Island, and we swam on the beach where I learned to body surf in the 1960s. 2015 will bring us closer together, geographically and emotionally, and I look forward to more swims and walks on our beaches.

Nancy Kim, Bradenton Beach:

I’ll remember Malaysia Airlines flight 370, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the death of Robin Williams. 2014 also marked the successful and gratifying launch of my personal concierge service. In of my personal concierge service. In 2015, I wish health, happiness and prosperity to everyone I love!

Maureen McCormick, Anna Maria Island Historical Society:

We will remember 2014 for the thousands of visitors who came to hear the story of the Island and its three unique cities and thank them for their generous support. We are looking forward to our exciting museum renovation and working with our New College and Florida State interns to help us in our ongoing preservation and documentation program.

Janie Robertson, Bradenton Beach Commissioner:

I think the most important thing that happened in 2014 was Mayor Bill Shearon and Finance Director Sheila Dalton working together to re-establish the city’s financial credibility with the state. I look forward to the ULI study results. Hopefully, an Island-wide effort to protect our perimeter will be launched with help from the county.

Steve Schewe, Bradenton Beach:

2014 forced me to realize we are not yet free from race issues as a country. Personally I re-launched Steve’s Fitness as an in-home service and business has never been better.

Sam Speciale, Bradenton Beach Police Chief:

In 2014, the city saw two major projects happen – the pier and the cell tower, and we had one very important major election (the Martin-Vosburgh race). In 2015, hopefully a breath of fresh air will go through the city so things will calm down and the city can move ahead.”

Bill Tokajer, Holmes Beach Police Chief:

I will remember how blessed we are as an agency to have the support from our community and elected officials. We have citizens thanking us daily for the job we do. That is truly appreciated, and we look forward to continuing our proactive efforts to protect paradise. On a personal note, my youngest daughter, Valerie, told us she is pregnant, so are looking forward to our fifth grandchild.

Jan Vosburgh, Bradenton Beach Commissioner:

In 2014 we had a lot of issues that need to be resolved. My hope is that 2015 brings us an opportunity to get rid of all the lawsuits burdening the city, and I will do everything possible to make this happen.

Fish wash ashore; red tide apparently not the cause

A mullet roundup in the Gulf of Mexico off Bradenton Beach netted roe, or eggs, for dozens of fishermen just in time for Christmas. But since then, mullet have been washing up on Anna Maria Island’s beaches apparently as a result of some fishermen keeping the high-dollar roe from the females and dumping the low-dollar female carcasses and the males overboard.

In previous Sun reports, local food banks have said that it would be too expensive to transport, ice and process the fish even if the fishermen were willing to save room in their boats bring them to the dock and donate them. Meanwhile, Manatee County workers continue to clean dead fish from the beaches. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports no red tide off Florida’s Gulf coast, and county officials say they believe the dead fish, which numbered in the thousands of tons, were dumped.


Dead mullet are scattered across the beach but are quickly removed by county crews.


Get ready for Dolphin Dash


The start of last year’s one mile fun run brought out a
lot of younger runners.

HOLMES BEACH – The streets near Anna Maria Elementary School will be full of runners on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, as the school presents its Tenth Annual Dolphin Dash, sponsored by the school’s PTO and organized by Jesse Brisson.

The only changes this year are minor, said Brisson.

“This year we’ll have a bigger spread of food, more selection,” he said. “Also, we’ll have black T-shirts to pass out to the runners.”

The Dolphin Dash begins at 7 a.m. with registration and the 5K run begins at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., the one-mile fun run allows beginners and smaller kids an opportunity to run.

The run is held under the auspices of the Bradenton Runner’s Club. T-shirts and goodie bags are guaranteed to all pre-registered runners. There will be door prizes and refreshments after the race ad ribbons for all who finish the Fun Run.

For the 5K run, awards will be given to male and female best overall, Master’s Division for those 40 and older, Grand Masters for 50 and older, Senior Grand Masters for 60 and older and Veteran Grand Masters for those 70 and older. First through third place awards will go to 10-12, 13-15, 16-19, 20-24, all the way up to the maximum. First through 10th place awards will be presented to grade level age groups 5 through 9.

To register, log onto and find a link under “Events” or log onto The cost if registered by Jan. 5 is $25 for adults, $15 for kids under 18 and $22 for Bradenton Runner’s Club members.

For race day registration, adults will pay $30 and children under 18 will pay $15. For more information, call 941-713-4755.

Fireworks ready for New Year’s celebration

Fireworks confiscated by police during the July 4 holiday.

file photo

BRADENTON BEACH – When the ball drops at Times Square, the sky above the Gulf will come alive to herald a new year.

Once again, a free fireworks show is being offered on New Year’s Eve starting at midnight, and the beaches will be open for those who want to enjoy it.

And as in previous years, the three law enforcement organizations will have extra personnel to make sure the fireworks are in the hands of the professionals since fireworks are illegal to the general public.

“If it flies or goes boom, it’s illegal,” said Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby. “We’ll have extra men for law enforcement and traffic control, plus we’ll have help from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Holmes Beach, if we need it.”

The police have cracked down on illegal fireworks lately, and they will confiscate fireworks if they see them.

To avoid traffic and parking hassles, Island residents and visitors take the free Island trolleys, which will run until 1 a.m., according to Manatee County Area Transit. Whether you come to Bradenton Beach for the fireworks or to a bar to celebrate with drinks, using the trolley is safe and can help motorists avoid a DUI.

Law enforcement in the other two cities on the Island will have personnel checking for fireworks and dangerous driving, as well as traffic and crowd control. They urge everyone to remember that alcohol is illegal on the beaches of Anna Maria Island.