Large machinery, tugs, and pipelines, floating off the beaches of Anna Maria Island, provide eery sights, with powerful engines and pumps sending sand from the sea bottom to the shoreline while dredging operations continue over several weeks.
Federal, State, and County taxpayers are providing Great Lakes Dredge and Dock $13 million to move sand from offshore to onshore in order to widen the beach, beginning at 79th Street, Holmes Beach, and moving south 4.7 miles to 38th Street, Bradenton Beach.
Anna Maria Beach is not included in this project because the coastal properties are considered adequately protected from erosion.
An additional subsequent contract of $3 million extends the beach widening further south along Coquina Beach Park.
The Holmes Beach – Bradenton Beach contract began December 20th and scheduled for completion within 60 days, by February 18th. The Coquina Beach Park work continues through end of April.
The sand mining halted on a number of occasions when high winds endangered pipelines and equipment. While the large dredge scours out the sand offshore, the pipeline outlet onshore gushes the slurry for bulldozers and excavators to spread out along the shoreline. Up to 1000 feet of beachfront accretion per day is possible before equipment is repositioned to the next section.
Here it is, mid summer, and we still are enjoying our daily walks over to the beach. Most of us who live on Anna Maria Island are able to walk to the beach. It is wonderful not to have to drive. The island is so narrow at the south end that the beach is never more than three or four blocks away. Farther north, the island widens and the walk increases by a few more blocks. But the only areas from which a walk to the beach would take more than just a few minutes are Key Royale and the neighborhoods near Galati Marine at the southeast end of the City of Anna Maria.
Our house is exactly a half mile from the beach. We usually make that walk and then continue along the beach, toward the setting sun before we turn and head home. The beach part of the walk is spectacular every evening. Tonight the beach was particularly wide, and the sand looked smooth and white. The temperature was extremely pleasant—amazing for mid August! The water reflected the pink/orange glow from the low sun. There was almost nobody on the beach. This is the kind of “paradise” experience for which people travel long distances. How lucky we are to be able to walk to it.
When is the Anna Maria Island High Season? That depends on who you ask. For the rental industry, most tourists come in winter, between Thanksgiving and Easter. Rates go up towards the end of November and down about the beginning of May.
But times are changing and the “shoulder” seasons are extending into all of November and after April. Summer is also the busiest time for day visitors, who escape the inland heat for the cooler beaches and water activities and bring their kids who are out of school. Longer daylight hours attract after-work beachgoers. However, these visitors don’t have an impact on the rental real estate market as much as they do on the restaurant and bar trade.
As a year-round resident, who endures the high humidity and storms of summer, my respect for the wisdom of the snowbirds grows every year. From October through May, there are many days that are just about perfect. The people who come here during that period avoid a lot of discomfort and worry. They don’t have to worry about whether they are in a structure that will withstand the high winds of summer hurricanes. They don’t have to postpone a walk for fear of being struck by lightning, as often is the case in summer. The good news for those of us who stay here year-round is that high tourist season does not fill the entire period from October through May, so we get to enjoy many days that are near perfect, without crowds.
The busiest time of year seems to be around Presidents’ Day, the third Monday in February. Schools are on break and warmer weather brings out the winter hibernators. Travel can be brought to a standstill for hours as cars search for parking spots and bridge openings stop traffic flowing. Congestion is increasing each year as more people discover Anna Maria Island and try to squeeze onto a finite space.