ANNA MARIA — The city of Anna Maria is planning to build a public comfort station on a piece of vacant land across from the Anna Maria City Pier at the end of Pine Avenue.

According to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, the station will include a men’s restroom, a women’s restroom, changing stations in both, a water fountain and an outdoor shower.

“When I was campaigning, it was a huge issue. People wanted to know why we had a vacant piece of property with ‘No trespassing’ signs on it?” Murphy said Wednesday in reference to six vacant lots purchased by the city years ago. “Why weren’t we doing something with it?”

In January, Murphy created the City Pier Park Committee to recommend what to do with the land.

“After months of deliberation, the committee came back with a phased-in approach of a comfort station and native landscaping and trails through the six lots,” Murphy said.

The mayor said he doesn’t have cost figures because the request for proposal for prospective contractors is still out, but funding for the project is coming out of city reserve funds. According to the RFP, the city wants the comfort station completed by November. Proposals must be received by the city no later than 2 p.m. Aug. 3.

Plans were designed by Conner + Associates Architecture Inc. of Holmes Beach. President Jeffrey Conner said the handicapped-accessible station will take about 480 square feet of space.

“I’ve been working on it for a couple of months,” Conner said. “This is a public facility and it’s obviously going to serve the general public and what we have included into that facility is electrical for events on Pine Avenue.”

Ruth Uecker, a resident of Anna Maria since 2010, served on the City Pier Park Committee. The 73-year-old Uecker and other committee members discussed at length what they felt should be done with the vacant city property.

Survey says restrooms

Armed with a spreadsheet, Uecker said she stood by the entrance of the city pier on a few occasions to survey people asking: “How would you like to see the six lots developed?”

“I talked to people from out of town and out of the country — anybody that happened to be going out on the pier,” Uecker said. “As you know, that pier is probably one of the most popular spots in Manatee County.”

Many people surveyed said they’d like to see a restroom there. Uecker said there’s really no place for the public to use the restroom in that immediate area.

“There’s a bathroom facility at Bayfront Park, but it’s over the bridge and out of sight and a lot of people don’t know it’s there,” she said.

Uecker said it’s great the project is moving forward.

“I had my reservations about it because I just wasn’t sure it was the kind of thing that needed to be in a public park, but I really changed my mind along the way,” she said. “If it’s done right and it’s taken care of properly as it should be — and I’m sure it will be — certainly it will be an added facility for people to use, especially on that corner.”

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