The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 34 - June 7, 2017


Daquiri Deck on the horizon

Carol Whitmore

Emily Anne Smith Designs | Submitted

This rendering created by designer Emily Anne Smith.

BRADENTON BEACH – If all goes according to plans, there will be a Daquiri Deck on Bridge Street around this time next year.

The Daquiri Deck is expected to be part of a new development by Bridge Street Bazaar and Fish Hole adventure golf course owner Jake Spooner, who also serves as a member of the City Commission.

The Daquiri Deck has been in the works for months now, but Spooner had not planned on going public with his intentions yet. That changed last week when the Daiquiri Deck ownership group member Russell Matthes mentioned to a Sarasota restaurant news publication that he and his partners Troy Syprett and Matthew Grover planned to open a fourth Daquiri Deck in Bradenton Beach. The trio will soon be opening a third location in south Siesta Key, which was preceded by the Daquiri Deck in St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota and the original location in the Siesta Key Village.

"I was totally caught off guard," Spooner said of the unexpected attention his development is now getting.

A Facebook post initiated by Cortez resident Rose Lipke sparked a cordial online debate that that included support for a Daquiri Deck and concerns about bringing a "franchise" to Bridge Street.

Unlike Anna Maria and Holmes Beach, the city of Bradenton Beach does not prohibit franchised business operations; and Spooner said he considers the Daquiri Deck to be more similar to the four Anna Maria Oyster Bars located in Manatee County than a business operation franchised to outside parties.

The Daquiri Deck will be located on the second story of the building that will be erected in the vacant lot between The Fish Hole and Bill Herlihy's Island Time Inn. The third-story will be used as a mostly open-aired deck for Daquiri Deck's patrons.

Spooner said he hopes the Daquiri Deck helps bring more families to Bridge Street because his businesses rely on the family clientele.

Spooner anticipates submitting his building plans to the city in a month, beginning construction later this summer and opening his business space and the restaurant space leased to Daquiri Deck owners in the spring or early summer of 2018.

In addition to adult beverages, the existing Daquiri Decks offer full dining service that includes entrees, oysters and other raw bar items, appetizers, wraps and sandwiches and a kids menu.

Spooner said the other Daquiri Decks typically utilize low-key acoustic acts rather than full bands, so he does not envision noise ordinance compliance to be a major concern.

Spooner, 38, plans to relocate the Bridge Street Bazaar he opened in 2001 into the new ground-level retail space and he does not yet know for sure what he'll do with the space he currently uses.

Before he took office as a city commissioner in 2015, Spooner's development plans were approved by the previous city commission after being reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Board. At that time, Spooner was granted a parking exception that will require him to provide shuttle service to and from Cortez Beach, just south of Bridge Street, on a daily basis. The shuttle service will also be available to Bridge Street visitors patronizing other businesses and establishments.

Aqua by the Bay hearings scheduled

MANATEE COUNTY – Tentative meeting dates have been established for the Manatee County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners to conduct follow-up reviews of the Aqua by the Bay development plans.

The Planning Commission hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, July 13, following by a County Commission hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 16. Planning Coordinator Bobbi Roy confirmed these dates last week, but said they are not official until the meetings are advertised.

The previous Planning Commission review in April and County Commission review in early May were both based on an inaccurate staff report and incomplete information provided by the developers in terms of how many high-rise buildings.

they hoped to include in the development formerly known as Long Bar Pointe.

County staff originally told Planning Commissioners and County Commissioners there would be one 75-foot building and one 145-foot building as part of the 2,894 proposed residential units that would also include 510 single-family homes. But during the May 4 County Commission land use meeting plans submitted to a state agency and not shared with county staff revealed as many as two dozen 145-foot condominium buildings.

The land use meeting ended with county commissioners remitting the developer's requests back to the Planning Commission for further review based on more specific information to be provided by Carlos Beruff's development team.

On May 16, King Engineering Associates, released a height analysis report that provides more details on the developers' plans.

"The applicant proposes two mixed-use building product types which exceed 35 feet in height. Building type 1 is a maximum of 95 feet and building type 2 is a maximum of 145 feet. A maximum of four 145-foot tall structures are planned," the report states.

The report does not state how many 95-foot structures are planned, and there was no mention of 95-foot Aqua by the Bay structures at previous meetings. The maximum height allowed in the property's current zoning designation is 35-feet, and the developers need the County Commission's permission to go higher.

"Type 2 structures will be located in the central portion of the site and strategically placed in order to allow light and air to flow through the site in open vistas from El Conquistador (Parkway) to the bay. Placement of the tallest buildings in the central portion of the site mitigate potential external impacts to the surrounding properties," the report claims, while noting the tallest buildings would be located at least 210 feet from the mean high water line.

"Aqua will have a similar luxurious feel of the high-end homes to the south and across the bay on Longboat Key. The architectural character will compliment the waterfront community and help west Bradenton to reestablish its identity. Aqua by the Bay will be a catalyst to accelerating redevelopment in west Bradenton and the gentrification of nearby areas that are currently in a state of decline," the report states.

In April, the Planning Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the plans proposed at that time being compliant with the county comp plan and land development code. In July, they will revisit that recommendation. The Planning Commission's April meeting did not include any discussion on the man-made Chrystal Lagoon that revealed during the County Commission hearing.

In May, the Army Corps of Engineers denied for a second time the developers' request for a mangrove mitigation bank that would have allowed them to cut through environmentally sensitive coastal mangroves to make way for a marina and/or navigation channel that connects to Sarasota Bay.

Walking tall — JD gets his 'legs'

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


JD White, bottom left, receives a check May 25 for the
proceeds from a fundraiser held in his honor May 21 at
D Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach.

ANNA MARIA — Island resident JD White is moving around a lot better these days, thanks to the help of his community.

"I can lift this leg for the first time in 23 years," White said May 30, carefully maneuvering his left leg with the help of one of his two new WalkAide devices.

The devices help White overcome dropfoot, a condition caused by cerebral palsy, which prevents him from lifting his toes to walk. The WalkAides, positioned on his calves, send electrical pulses to his muscles to increase function, helping him to lift his toes and walk more easily. Combined with twice weekly therapy, White said he's on his way to increasing his flexibility, movement and quality of life.

White said the progress he's making wouldn't be possible without the help and support of his community.

Between an online Go Fund Me page and a May 21 fundraiser at D Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach, enough funds were raised to allow White to purchase the two WalkAide devices needed to get him out of the leg braces he's worn most of his 26 years. In addition to the WalkAide devices, White is now able to pay for the weekly diagnostic appointments, supplies and maintenance for the devices. He also can cover the costs of much-needed therapy and doctor appointments.

"This community I've lived in my whole life, I just feel very loved and very blessed to be here," he said. "I thank everyone from near and far, the people who donated, who came to the benefit and who gave of their time and energy. It's impossible to name everyone. I don't want to forget anyone. I just want to thank them all."

Chief denounces resident HBPD complaint


Kristin Swain | Sun

Mangroves located at the 63rd Street boat ramp in
Holmes Beach are in the center of not one, but two issues
between residents and city leaders.

HOLMES BEACH — After reviewing a resident complaint against Holmes Beach Police Officers, Chief Bill Tokajer says the allegations are false.

The complaint came in the form of a May 25 email from Alec Graham, the president of the Westbay Point and Moorings condominium board of directors. In the e-mail, Graham said he had spoken with property manager Bob McGlynn, who alleged officers had harassed workers trimming the mangroves May 19 at the 63rd Street boat ramp, located adjacent to the condominium property. The e-mail also noted issues with code enforcement officers over the mangrove maintenance.

After investigating the incident, including reviewing a tape of a Westbay resident calling to report the mangrove trimming, a report filed by officers and receiving sworn testimony from the workers involved, Tokajer found the allegations to be unfounded.

"I want the community to know that never happened, and my officers are all professionals," Tokajer said. "They are dedicated to policing this community and doing the right thing all the time and they do. For someone to say that they do not is just a disservice to the community for them to make such an allegation."

By responding publicly to the allegations, he said he hopes to put the rumors to rest.

The mangrove trimming has been a point of contention between the city and residents of the condominium complex since the late 2016 installation of two boat lifts and canopies for use of HBPD and West Manatee Fire Rescue watercrafts. In addition to testifying the encounter with officers was not confrontational, workers also said they were instructed to trim mangroves that they had not previously cut closer to the boat ramp and possibly on the city's property.

The city and condominium residents both are awaiting the results of a riparian rights survey to determine who has what rights over the contested area.

Due to concerns about the mangrove trimming, including the resident complaint, Tokajer said he's forwarded his department's reports to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for further review.

Kingfish refurbishment to align with bridge construction

Kristin Swain | Sun

Vehicles and boat trailers begin filling up parking spaces June 4
at Kingfish boat ramp, located on the north side of Manatee
Avenue in Holmes Beach. Future plans to expand
the boat ramp's facilities include the addition of more
parking for patrons.

The Kingfish boat ramp on Manatee Avenue will close for construction, but Manatee County isn't planning on restricting access to the popular boat ramp any time soon.

Reconfiguring the boat ramp to allow for a fourth boat launch ramp and expanded parking on the eastern side is slated to take place in concert with construction on the new high-span fixed Anna Maria Island Bridge. A December 2016 county presentation projects the expected construction start date in or beyond 2021. Because construction at Kingfish corresponds with bridge construction, neither project will begin until funds are secured for the bridge.

Funding for the Kingfish and other county boat ramp improvement projects is currently being provided by the West Coast Inland Navigation District and the Florida Boating Improvement Program.

Beach market in good standing

joe hendricks | SUN

The beach markets take place on Wednesdays
and Sundays through July 30.

BRADENTON BEACH – Despite her recent arrest, Nancy Ambrose remains in good standing with Manatee County officials regarding her operation of the seasonal markets at Coquina Beach.

Ambrose was recently arrested and charged with three counts of fraud stemming from her oversight of a now-defunct butterfly garden at Holmes Beach City Hall.

On Tuesday, May 30, Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker updated County Commissioners on Ambrose's status regarding her market agreement with the county.

"In light of unfortunate circumstances reported for the manager of the Sunday and Wednesday market operating under an agreement with Manatee County, I wanted to provide this update of our continuing and satisfactory contractual agreement. No changes or actions are recommended at this time," Hunsicker wrote.

His e-mail included one he received earlier that day from Contracts Manager Debbie Voorhees.

"In light of the recent articles in the newspapers alleging fraud for Nancy Ambrose, I thought you'd like to know the current status of her contract with the county. Last fall, amendment #1 was executed, which added Wednesdays to her agreement. At that time, Frank Lambertson, Carrie Kelly and I reviewed the entire original agreement and updated it with some additional auditing and financial requirements. To date, Nancy has complied by providing these reports," Voorhees wrote.

"The compensation we receive is based on the number of days she holds the market, regardless of the number of booths and vendors she has. One is not dependent upon the other. We receive $300 for each Sunday the market is held and $200 for each Wednesday the market is held. Nancy has remitted her funds promptly and provided additional back-up information when requested," Vorhees wrote.

Ambrose has pleaded not guilty to the fraud charges. Her arraignment hearling is scheduled for June 23.

Few changes for next school year

HOLMES BEACH – The hallways and classrooms are quiet for the summer at Anna Maria Elementary School.

Fifty-five fifth-graders graduated to middle school, and although the Island is losing permanent residents, enrollment is expected to be enough to support the 14 teachers that were on staff this past school year. Nobody is expected to leave.

"We have no teachers retiring this year," said Principal Jackie Featherston. "We don't expect we'll need any more teachers."

Featherston said they expect to have two teachers per grade for kindergarten, and grades one, four and five. The second and third grades will have three classrooms each. District quotas regulate the number of children per classroom to prevent overcrowding.

More than half of the students enrolled do not live on the Island, according to school records. Many of the mainland students' parents work on the Island and bring their kids in with them every day.

The school's reputation for excellence draws parents to enroll their kids here. The school maintains an "A" rating from the school board.

Featherston said parental involvement and a strong PTO help pave the way for the kids to learn, and she expects it will remain that way next year.

Center board works on future strategies

ANNA MARIA — The Center of Anna Maria Island's board is approaching the end of the organization's fiscal year with an eye to the future.

The group met May 30 to discuss the pending close of the current fiscal year and plans to make changes in the coming one.

Center Treasurer Jim Froeschle was absent from the meeting, leaving it to Chair Bill Shuman to present the April end of month financials. The report showed a loss of $51,800, creating a fiscal year loss of $241,800 through the end of April. The report did not include an anticipated $28,000 in donations from the city governments of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.

The Center's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

As the end of the fiscal year approaches, Shuman said the Center's leadership team is hopeful that membership dollars, summer camp registration fees and donations will help lessen the financial gap. Also to be added are the funds raised from the May crawfish boil event.

Board member Lindsay Sauls estimates the crawfish boil brought in $11,000 for the Center, including $9,000 in event sponsorships.

Executive Director Kristen Lessig said the crawfish boil was "an added event that was a great success."

As the budget process begins for the 2017-18 fiscal year, Lessig said the nonprofit is attempting to improve its accounting practices to provide more consistently formatted financial reports.

She said a goal for the coming year is to be "more strategic" about fundraising opportunities. When approaching events, Lessig said there should be a mix of community-centric and fundraising events. Part of that differentiation, she said, is to create experiences where people don't feel pressured to donate every time.

Some of the events planned for the coming year include a fish fry, beach dinner, bowling tournament, Lester Family Fun Day and the return of the crawfish boil. Other planned events are the annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theater and the Tour of Homes.

Another area board members are considering bringing change to is the board itself.

Shuman said he'd like board members to consider amending the organization's bylaws in coming months to allow for additional members. As it sits, recent additions have brought the board's numbers up to 15 with two additional members under consideration by the governance committee. If the two members are added, it would put the Center's board at its 17 person maximum. Shuman would like to see that number expanded to 24 to give the board more flexibility in adding new members.

Board members typically serve two year terms.

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