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Anna Maria delays decision on $50K clam-seagrass project

The waters around Anna Maria may someday house about 20,000 new residents — clams.

But city commissioners want to keep options open for now.

Commissioners unanimously voted Jan. 13 to table discussion on a proposed project to seed clams and add areas of cultivated seagrass along the city’s northern shoreline on Tampa Bay and within Bimini Bay.

The city earmarked $50,000 of the $740,432 it received from the U.S. American Rescue Plan to spend on red tide mitigation, according to Mayor Dan Murphy.

Local restaurateur Ed Chiles wrote in a Jan. 7 email to Murphy that if the city agreed to use the money on a clam and seagrass project, the Chiles Group would announce a $50,000 matching challenge to increase funding to $150,000.

Chiles, who is named as vice president of Gulf Shellfish Institute Inc., brought executive president Stephen Hesterberg to pitch the project Jan. 13 to commissioners.