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Off Islands

A look at news happening on our neighboring Islands  
By Roger Skidmore

Not all Snowbirds leaving
Well, not exactly birds. Longboat has long had a problem with guests overstaying their welcome but, given enough hints, they usually pack-up and head for home at some point in time. This problem, according to Longboat Key Town Manager David Bullock, is that these guests are already home. To which one can only exclaim Oh Rats, because that is exactly what they are. The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort seems to have a bunch of squatters who have made themselves quite at home. The bigger problem is that, in wanting to keep trim, these new residents are going out for long walks and visiting other beachfront properties. Years ago the simple solution was to bait a trap with peanut butter (the belief is that they prefer crunchy over creamy) and wait for the snap. The exterminators on Longboat should check their local supermarket, specifically the two for one sales, and stock up with as many jars as they can find

Three stages of beach renourishment
While most everyone’s attention has been focused on Lido Key’s plan to refurbish its beach by reclaiming the sand that it had placed there during previous refurbishments, sand has also been moving south from a bit further north. The North End Coalition of Property Owners of Longboat Key has been formulating their own plans because their sand has been moving south as well.

Their Town Manager, David Bullock, has been warning them that erosion was carrying their sand away even though they had just had it renourished back in 2010. They say they would like to do something about it sometime this summer.

The sand that erodes from Lido winds up in a big underwater pile off Big Pass that Lido thinks it can suck back onto its own key. The problem for the north end of Longboat is that when their sand goes south it is just carried down the beach towards the center of the key. And that makes it a bit harder to take back as the rest of Longboat would put up a big stink if they tried to reclaim it. Of course there is the sand that simply washed out further into the Gulf of Mexico, but that is so evenly distributed that it would be hard to vacuum up and pump back to shore again. A big problem which only money can solve, and which time and tide will make a problem once more.

Going one step further, the Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company finished the current cycle of beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island in less than three months. Beginning in December of last year they finished up this March. Quite a feat. We are talking about Cortez, Coquina and the Manatee Public Beach – all have been extended and coated with a lovely layer of white sand. All those interviewed seemed to think that it was a job well done.

Garbage in the news
The newly proposed SAT tests have been in the news recently. Many think that doing away with the essays and eliminating the longer and more arcane words represents a dumbing down of America. Another example might be Longboat Keys decision to keep picking up garbage twice weekly instead of the more economical once per week. Their reasoning? While there is not enough garbage for two pick-ups, renters might miss putting out the garbage on the first scheduled day and thus the G-men can pick it up a couple of days later.

The collection change they did make, was to let renters (and residents) mix their plastic, metal, paper and glass all together in one recycle bin because – it appears – they can’t tell them apart. Perhaps this is another example of dumbing down.

Crash course in driving
Statistically traffic safety is getting better for the approaches to Anna Maria Island. In February there were 23 crashes recorded on the two spans that connects Anna Maria Island to Bradenton. Admittedly all of those crashes were not actually on the bridges, some were on the way to and from the bridges and some were caused while driving from one to the other – and all were caused by the same driver, a teenager in a stolen pickup truck. In March things got better, there was only one major mishap. This time on the bridge leading to Anna Maria from Manatee Avenue there was a crash that caused a lot of traffic to back up in both directions. While it was only one driver in one vehicle, he managed to punch a jeep-sized hole in the concrete railings of the bridge.

Who goes first?
The commissioners of Sarasota County have been discussing the possibility of charging for parking at Siesta Beach. Now the Anna Maria City Commissioners are doing the same thing. Their mayor, Sue Lynn, says they don’t have all the details worked out but also that the discussion on the subject has just started.  St. Pete Beach and Clearwater have already installed their meters and are banking quite a bit of money in the process. What Anna Maria will do with the money is, of course, one of the hot topics for discussion.

Sometimes it pays to wait
How many times have we read that a city or county commission waited too long and lost out on a grant for some project or another? Or, because they waited too long to get the request for bids (RFB) out, they had to accept a rushed product to no ones liking (not that the City of Sarasota State Street Parking Garage comes to mind). Well, this kind of delay seems to have worked out to the advantage of Bradenton Beach this time around. They had originally targeted August of 2013 for completing the renovation of the historic Bridge Street Pier but Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert says they have just, this March, put out their request for sealed bids to be returned by April 21st. They expect construction will start in June. Seems like a bad delay, which could have cost a lot of extra money, but, in fact, during the interim they received a matching funds grant from Manatee County of $1 million. The refurbished pier will have new decking, LED lighting and extra pilings to protect the main structure from boats that break loose after storms. No completion date has been set.

Fun with words
Barge (verb) – Two guys barged into a couple of parties on the way to Key West.

Barge (noun) – A tugboat was pushing two barges on the gulf.

Barges (reality) – Two barges, during high winds on the high seas barged onto Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

The tug, Abe H, was en route to Key West pushing two barges laden with construction equipment and ran into high seas and winds. One 180 foot long barge had broken loose and ran aground on Anna Maria Island early in the morning on Tuesday, April 8th. The second barge, only 140 feet long, surfed the waves onto Longboat the next day. Fortunately the barges were not carrying any toxins – only heavy cranes which would have been a bear to drag out of the surf had they slipped from their moorings. Able-bodied seamen from Coast Guard stations in Cortez and St. Petersburg were able to tow the barges out to deeper water where they could hitch another ride south.

Too bad most of the snowbirds and spring breakers have gone home.  Can you imagine all the YouTube videos and tweets that would have been generated? They really should schedule these marine disasters earlier in the season.