County finally filling holes in Bradenton plaza

Crews worked Tuesday to fill in a hole that's created a massive headache for store owners at Cortez Plaza East. 

"It's challenging. We don't have our parking spots available, we can't get into the shopping center from the back of it," said Deon Sarlls, who owns Plato's Closet.   "A lot of times from the street they see the fencing and they just automatically think we are out of business or closed, but that's not the case.”

At E-Tradepost, assistant manager Courtney Curlin said it's a nuisance that drives customers away. 

"When they see that, customers don't feel safe to park here anymore because they are constantly worried their car is going to cave in," said Curlin. 

Manatee County Public Works said old underground pipes rusted out and allowed water to flow through. It caused local flooding and the holes to open. 

The county budgeted $250,000 for the repair and they're not even responsible. 

The problem started about two years ago when store owners noticed two holes that popped up in the parking lot of Cortez Plaza East.  They said at first the property owner fixed those holes, but when these holes appeared, they say he just sort of disappeared.

"He's been very uninvolved. I think it's been two years since anyone from our team has been able to reach him," said Sarlls. 

The plaza owner, Bradenton Associates LLC, will need to pay the county back. They've already been fined $10,000 for the problems at the plaza. The owners have the plaza listed for sale online. 

"We've gotten no response from anyone, we've seen no action taken to complete the repairs," said Myra Prater, the field maintenance division manager for Manatee County.

Prater said they plan on opening up on the holes into a channel so water can flow through.  The other hole will be opened to see if a repair can be made. 

"With it being private property, we have very limited paths that we can take to correct the situation on our own," she explained. 

That means the parking lot will not be repaved and store owners can only cross their fingers and hope more holes don't open up. 

"It's been a long road for them," Prater added.