Nine months ago today, Hurricane Irma whipped through the state of Florida leaving behind countless, unwelcome memories. While most areas in Florida were spared catastrophic damages, the historic 678 foot Anna Maria City Pier built in 1911 did not fare so well. Days following Hurricane Irma, the pier was deemed unsafe and closed to the public. The tin roof was torn off the bait shop and there was significant damage to the restaurant and to the wooden planking. An engineering assessment was completed and in October 2018 the city commission voted for the City Pier to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch. At that time the new 4.5 million dollar pier, bait shop and restaurant re-opening date was slated for late 2019.
Demolition discussions have been ongoing and on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 a contract with Speeler & Associates was signed. According to Anna Maria Mayor Murphy work is to begin shortly and the contract calls for the demo to be completed on or before September 30. If you’re planning a visit to the pier you can expect to see the pier fenced off with barge-based cranes positioned at the end of the pier.
As for the plank removal, local contractor Frank Agnelli and his crew from Agnelli Pools Ned Construction and Mason Martin Builders are scheduled to begin pulling the engraved pier planks in late June. For those who formally requested their plank be returned, it has been reported that pick-up will begin on July 2nd. The planks can be picked up at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive. Any unclaimed planks will be stored and used to build memorial walls at City Pier Park and in the historical park near the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum.
The Anna Maria City Pier was an attraction on its own and the vast majority of the people who visited the pier never even entered the restaurant. With breathtaking views of Tampa Bay you could enjoy a stroll any time of the day or watch a spectacular Florida sunset. The Anna Maria City Pier was always a favourite gathering place for locals galore and a place where it was easy for tourists to feel welcome. Whether you were fishing, having a drink at the bar, shopping for jewelry or listening to live music at night, the pier holds a special meaning to so many.
For now, all we can do is watch as the old planks are removed with anticipation and a vision of walking on the brand new planks in 2019 and envision the what the new city pier will look like.

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ANNA MARIA CITY PIER – repurposing of the wooden pier planks

In one of our recent blogs I wrote about the tearing down and rebuilding of the Anna Maria City Pier due to the extensive damage sustained from Hurricane Irma. The estimated date to re-open is 2019. In that blog I touched on what would happen to the wooden planks carved with names and remembrances. My thoughts were that they would be sold and people would line up to buy a piece of what remains of their pier. It appears we are not the only ones wondering what will happen to these memory pieces. We do know the planks that currently line the Anna Maria City Pier will be removed and replaced as part of the city’s plan to rebuild the pier. But, it has not yet been decided what to do with the engraved planks once they are removed.

You might be wondering about the origin of the wooden planks? I was curious and after doing some research this is what I found out –The pier opened in 1911 and to launch it’s 100-year celebration the Islander newspaper and the Anna Maria City Pier restaurant sponsored the engraved wooden plank project. The total number of sold out planks installed was 1,000 with a base cost of $100 which included a 12-character inscription carved in the plank. The engraved plan sponsor, The Islander newspaper is said to have have received many calls and lots of people have contacted Pier management directly. Anna Maria Island mayor Dan Murphy created an e-mail address specifically for people to send in their suggestions and it has been reported that he received a great response. According to Mayor Murphy, there are three popular recommendations. 1. Returning the planks to the people who purchased them. 2. Building a boardwalk in the city. 3. Repurposing the wood inside the City Pier Restaurant when it reopens. According to Mayor Murphy the third option appears to be the most popular and he likes that option as well. He suggested the engraved planks could be used for paneling on the walls or to rebuild the bar. The Mayor will be bring the options to the city commission at the next city meeting scheduled for Nov. 9/2017.

What to do with the old planks is not the only question being asked. There have been concerns raised about what will replace them. The engineering firm hired for the pier project recommended using lumberock. A recent Islander poll conducted, respondents say they prefer wood planks. Lumberock has a longer lifespan than wood, but the city has not committed yet. If the city uses wooden planks they would have to be replaced sooner. I’m sure the initial cost of the lumberock is more, but if it lasts longer one I would guess that would more then offset the initial cost? This is just one of many decisions to be made in the approved rebuild plan, which is estimated to cost $5 million.

Although it may be cost prohibitive, I am presently in favour of repurposing the planks inside the restaurant. Stay tuned!

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