While Hurricane Irma took many last-minute shifts and turns many areas in Florida were spared catastrophic damages, the historic Anna Maria City Pier didn’t fare so well..
It was obvious after the passing blow on September 10th and 11th that Irma had badly damaged the 678 foot pier that was built in 1911. The tin roof was torn off the bait shop and there was significant damage on the northwest side to the wooden planking. The days after Irma swept through Anna Maria Island it was unclear when the City Pier and its restaurant would re-open to the public.
Originally, officials were hopeful it would only be closed for a short time, possibly taking a few months to a year to repair. The initial engineering assessment found the pier to be in poor condition and found shifted beams and missing pilings causing portions of the walkway to sag not providing adequate support. The report recommended an immediate closure with a timeline of 12+ months to complete necessary repairs.
It appears now the damage far more extensive than what was anticipated, and in October the city commission voted for the City Pier to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch.
The estimated date to re-open is 2019. While the material will be different, officials say the new pier will look the same as the original. That is a small consolation for those where the pier was their favourite place to look out at the Gulf with Egmont Key to the left and straight ahead the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
It’s not easy now for the dozens of fisherman who sat daily atop their buckets, in the afternoon casting for snapper and shark in the evening.
What will happen to the wooden planks of the pier carved with names and remembrances? I’m sure they will be sold, people lining up to buy a piece of what remains of their pier.
The pier is sentimental to so many, their favourite place to go and for them 2019 can’t come soon enough.
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