Updated 3-2016 and 9-2017 below.
Back in 2001, a former landmark restaurant “Pete Renard’s”, and briefly “Marina Bay”, lay abandoned and deteriorating in the heart of Holmes Beach. Opposite the main mall Island Shopping Center, and sitting on prime waterfront with boat canals and docks, the previously family run night spot with the revolving floor and popular restaurant changed hands and then closed.
It’s been 7 15 years since an aspiring developer put together a plan for a complex of 40 luxury hotel condominiums, a deepwater marina for yachts and boats up to 65 feet in length, a restaurant, lounge and meeting facilities, to be called Tidemark Lodge & Marina.
Pre-construction sales of condominium suites were priced from the $300,000s to the $600,000s. The plan was approved by the city commission and demolition began. Periodic press releases promised great things even as long periods passed with no activity on the site.
Anna Maria Island includes several areas where manatees graze seagrass beds and pass through boat channels and canals. On the Gulf beach, in 2011, a herd of 13 manatee congregated and had to be patrolled by Police to keep onlookers from endangering themselves and the animals.
Finding and viewing manatees in the wild is a rare occurrence but Bradenton has one, named “Snooty”, at the South Florida Museum. He was born in 1948 and is the oldest manatee in captivity. You can see “Snooty” at the Parker Manatee Aquarium, 201 10th St W., Bradenton. Update July 23, 2017: Snooty died by accident one day after its 69th birthday.
Update August 31, 2017: South Florida Museum board of trustees admitted to being at fault when it announced Snooty became stuck and drowned in a tunnel due to negligence and complacency by staff, who were aware of a loose cover panel that was not repaired. “Justice for Snooty” is calling for resignations or firings of museum CEO Brynne Anne Bresio and COO Jeff Rodgers. Aquarium director Marilyn Margold no longer works at the museum. Staff have received additional training with a new checklist and record-keeping instructions.
Mote Marine Lab has two manatees, and numerous other aquatic wildlife, at their research facility Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, at City Island off Lido Key.
One of the disadvantages of an electric boatlift can be that the height at which it is raised blocks your view of the water and beyond. There is also the lost convenience of just stepping or climbing aboard your boat when it is kept in the water.
But considering how often recreational boat owners use their craft the lowering of the boatlift into the water is a small effort, while the peace of mind of having it out of the water the rest of the time is worth the trade-off.
A boatlift gets your boat off the water and eliminates the problem of chafing wear to dock lines and fairleads. It also prevents constant bumping into a dock from wind, waves and boat wake.
By not leaving your precious boat in the water, a boatlift allows you to forego anti-fouling – an expensive and recurring job.
In 1970, Michael Galati, Sr., and his wife, Anna Maria, moved to Anna Maria Island and founded Galati Yacht Sales. It was a family effort, based on hard work and a strong commitment to taking care of the customer before all else. They have built their family industry into a company with 12 dealership locations around the Gulf of Mexico, including Palmetto, Cape Coral , St. Petersburg, Destin, and Naples, Florida; Orange Beach, Alabama; and Houston, Texas. They have 171 employees, according to Boating Industry.
Voted the number one boat dealership in the country, for 2007 and 2008, by Boating Industry, the commitment of the five Galati siblings has really paid off. Their Customer Satisfaction Index was 95 in 2008.
Boating Industry based their award of the number one spot on Galati ’s myriad ways of offering service. From the way the sales team is structured to the thoroughness of every service appointment to the friendly question of whether any help is needed every time a Galati boat is encountered, the management and staff take care of their customers very well.
For years, people arriving on Anna Maria Island via any of the bridges have had a wonderful close-up view of the water along the way. In fact, many of the island’s more laid-back residents and visitors express their welcoming of bridge openings, as opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. They don’t mind pausing for a few minutes to appreciate the place in which they have chosen to spend time.
Although the Anna Maria Island Bridge on Manatee Avenue has recently been repaired and restored to last another ten years, there already is a major bureaucratic process underway to determine the ultimate future of this bridge. In fact, what happens to the bridge ten years from now is almost settled.
On March 26,  at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach , the FDOT held the final hearing at which they received public input on options for the Anna Maria Island Bridge ’s future. In addition to filling out questionnaires and comment sheets at the hearing, members of the public spoke and their comments were incorporated into the permanent public record. Those who did not attend the hearing can still enter their feedback into the public record by filling out questionnaires and comment sheets and submitting them to the FDOT by April 9. These forms can be downloaded from the site www.annamariaislandbridge.com. Input also can be given by phoning 863-519-2293.