Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Commercial fishermen want Madeira Beach to help by accepting state grant

Reba Ferrell is manager of Fishbusterz, a commercial fish house and dock in Madeira Beach that services up to 50 boaters and has facilities capable of handling a million pounds of fish annually. Fishbusterz wants the city to accept a $1.6 million grant aimed at its preservation.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Reba Ferrell is manager of Fishbusterz, a commercial fish house and dock in Madeira Beach that services up to 50 boaters and has facilities capable of handling a million pounds of fish annually. Fishbusterz wants the city to accept a $1.6 million grant aimed at its preservation.

MADEIRA BEACH

Commercial fishermen believe the future of their industry in Madeira Beach could well rest in a reluctant City Commission's hands.

But the city manager, the city attorney and the mayor are not convinced the city should accept a $1.6 million state grant aimed at preserving one of the city's two commercial fish houses.

The money is available, the local project is ranked highest in the state, but at issue is how the funds would be spent and who would actually own the existing commercial docks.

After listening to an emotional plea last week from commercial fishermen, the commission decided to discuss the grant at its Oct. 5 commission workshop.

"The clock is ticking and if you don't act soon then this grant could go to another community. That would be a great loss for the commercial fishing industry, our business, and this city," Eric Dickstein told the commission last week.

Dickstein is an owner of Fishbusterz, a commercial fish house and commercial dock facility at 13613 Gulf Blvd.

In 2008, Fishbusterz and the nonprofit Southeastern Fisheries Association applied for a $1.6 million state grant from the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program.

The city, in a formal letter signed by City Manager W.D. Higginbotham, agreed to be a back-up grant manager if the SFA was unable to manage the program site in the future.

The Florida Communities Trust funded three programs and placed the Fishbusterz project on the top of its list for the next round of funding.

Originally, the project called for future development rights to the property, now owned by Fishbusterz, to be dedicated "in perpetuity" for commercial fishing, and for the SFA to manage the program.

The money would be used to pay down Fishbusterz's mortgage and for a variety of improvements, including an ice plant, a storage building, and a larger fuel tank.

Fishbusterz would continue to operate the business, which services up to 50 commercial fishing boaters and has docking and storage facilities capable of handling a million pounds of fish annually.

Then last year, the SFA discovered that it could not legally serve as the grant recipient or manage the program. When the city also was reluctant to take on that full responsibility, Dickstein approached the county, but was turned down there, as well.

"I would have no problem with the city accepting this grant if we would own the property. But the city would have all the responsibility but would own nothing. We would have no control and as the city manager, I can't recommend that," said Higginbotham during a phone interview on Tuesday.

Dickstein told the City Commission they "would be hypocritical" if the city continues to promote its commercial fishing heritage but fails to protect it.

"Madeira Beach is marketed as the grouper capital of the world. What happens when all of the commercial fishing is gone? Commercial fishing is part of what makes the town unique and fuels its tourist industry," Dickstein said.

Dean Pruitt, a third generation commercial fisherman and part of the Madeira Beach-based fleet of longline fishing boats, also urged the commission to preserve the city's fishing industry.

At least two commissioners are sympathetic to the commercial fishermen's cause. Both Nancy Oakley and Carol Reynolds said they wanted to "support" the fishermen and have asked Higginbotham to report how the city could ensure the grant is awarded to Fishbusterz.

Commercial fishermen want Madeira Beach to help by accepting state grant 09/21/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 5:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.