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

Related News/Archive

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. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  2. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.

  3. Analysis: Bannon is out, but his agenda may live on

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — In his West Wing office, Stephen Bannon kept a chart listing trade actions — on China, steel and autos — that the Trump White House planned to roll out, week by week, through the fall. Now that Bannon, the president's chief strategist, has been pushed out, the question is whether his …

    Steve Bannon thinks he could be more effective influencing policy from outside the White House.
  4. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program

    Politics

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times