Council votes to leave pier structure as is

Published 2:56 pm Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saying it did not want to spend any more money on the People’s Pier, Washington’s City Council unanimously voted to leave the pier in its current configuration.

The pier was initially designed as a T-shape, however, once construction began, city planners approved an L-shaped configuration as a matter of boating safety. The change should allow boaters using the city’s free dock (I dock) to have better maneuverability around the pier as they leave the dock, according John Rodman, Washington’s director of planning and development.

The council rejected several options regarding the pier. One option, at a cost of $18,480, would have added 6 feet to the east side of the pier’s platform. Another option, at a cost of $25,080, would have added 12 feet to the east side of the platform. An additional $15,500 would have been added to either one of those options if the city decided to relocate the gazebo eastward so it was in the line of sight from the southern end of Market Street. An option to extend the platform 20 feet to the east was not considered by the council.

During a Nov. 2 meeting to discuss the matter, the 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 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.

At the Nov. 2 meeting, the committee learned that the Washington Harbor District Alliance was 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, was willing to provide $5,000 toward the extension project. The council also learned that PotashCorp Aurora was willing to provide money for the extension, but would not be able to do so until early next year. WHDA was willing to provide the “bridge” loan so the extension work could begin this year, Watkins said. PotashCorp Aurora would have reimbursed WHDA in early 2016.

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.

“Mr. Mayor, there’s been extensive discussion regarding the pier over the last several months. … We’ve spent $135,000 on that pier, and we’re obligated to finish that project by the end of this month. I would suggest, or I would move, that we adopt the pier in its current configuration and spend no additional money on this project and complete it by the Nov. 30 requirement,” Councilman Doug Mercer said.

Councilman Richard Brooks seconded the motion, which was quickly voted on and passed.




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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