Committee unable to develop suggestion concerning pier change

Published 5:53 pm Monday, November 2, 2015

Washington’s Waterfront Docks Advisory Committee was unable to come up with a recommendation to send to the City Council concerning a possible eastward extension of the People’s Pier platform.

A motion to extend the platform 11 feet to the east resulted in a 2-2 tie. That motion was supported by Fred Watkins, committee chairman, and Ray Midgett, with Mac Cox and Jeffrey Woolard opposing it. A motion to leave the pier in its present configuration resulted in a 2-2 tie, with Cox and Woolard supporting it, but with Watkins and Midgett voting against it. Cox questioned whether Watkins, as chairman, could second the motion made by Midgett.

The City Council was seeking a recommendation from the committee. The council, which meets Monday, has final say on changes to the pier.

The committee considered four proposals — adding a 6-foot section, adding an 11-foot section, adding a 20-foot section or leaving the pier as currently built.

Extending the platform by 11 feet and moving the pier’s gazebo eastward on the platform carried an estimated cost of $40,000 (which includes relocating the gazebo eastward), according to documents reviewed by the committee.

The City Council has made it clear it wants no more city money spent on the project. The committee learned that the Washington Harbor District Alliance is willing to provide a $20,000 “bridge” loan and donate $5,000 to help pay for the extension, and that Bill Sykes, a city resident and boater, is willing to provide $15,000 toward the extension project. The council also learned that PotashCorp Aurora is willing to provide money for the extension, but would not be able to do so until early next year. WHDA is willing to provide the “bridge” loan so the extension work could begin this year, Watkins said. PotashCorp Aurora would reimburse WHDA in early 2016.

Cox said one if his concerns is the lack of any written assurances those loans and donations would be made, possibly putting the city at risk for having to pay for extending the platform. John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources, said the council would have a similar concern.

Sykes endorsed the proposal to extend the platform by 11 feet and relocate the gazebo, saying such a modification would be more in line with the original design of the pier. Sykes refers to the existing configuration of the pier as a “sore thumb.” “It’s not originally what’s supposed to be there,” he said.

The pier is in an L-shaped configuration instead of the initial T-shape design. The change should allow boaters using the city’s free dock (I dock) to have better maneuverability around the pier as they leave the free dock, according Rodman.

Rodman plans to meet with officials who enforce Coastal Area Management Act regulations and oversee pier projects to see if they will grant the city an extension regarding closing out the grant used to help pay for the pier project. Currently, that closeout deadline is Nov. 30.

The city budgeted $150,000 for the pier project. In October 2014, the City Council awarded an $83,124 contract to Sawyer’s Residential & Marine Construction to build the pier and erect the gazebo.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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