Hart's Landing concession and bait shop shut down

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 6:37 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- One of Sarasota’s oldest bait and tackle shops has been shut down-- at least for now. Hart's Landing, located near the base of the Ringling Bridge, was deemed structurally unsafe late Thursday afternoon and immediately closed off from the public.

"It's been an iconic spot along Sarasota Bay, but now because it's shut down, it's a big disappointment among many fishermen," says Jack Asbell, a local Sarasota angler.

Jack Azbell was fishing on the pier late Thursday afternoon when he saw the city closing down the popular bait and tackle shop.

"Just saw the code enforcement wrapping the place up with caution tape."

He's not the only angler that's enjoyed the popular Hart's Landing over the years.

James Philips and his 5 year old son fish at this very spot under the bridge 4 to 5 times a week. He depends on the shop for bait, snacks, and restrooms for his son.

"It's going to make it very inconvenient for people that do come out here and get there bait out there; and now there's no restroom facilities."

The city's building official says recently inspectors found that the shops' foundation pilings are deteriorating—4 piles are at a 100 percent lossand another at 80 percent. It was ultimately deemed unsafe for people to be inside the shop or on the dock.

But locals hope it's not the end for the dock and bait shop which has been here since the sixties.

"It’s been here too long for them just to destroy it," said Alberta Ferguson, another local angler.

"I brought my son down here in the past fishin' when he was a little kid,” agreed Sarasota resident Mark Haner. “He just graduated from high school so it’s got some fond memories for me."

The city building official says they want to do everything they can to preserve the shop.

In the meantime, they're working with the county on how to add temporary restroom facilities on site.

The city says they've hired a structural engineer to do a more comprehensive study on Hart's Landing to see how they can move forward. 

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