Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Predicts Pier Opens in November; Construction around It Poses Hazard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Predicts Pier Opens in November; Construction around It Poses Hazard

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

The long-awaited oceanfront fishing pier in Jacksonville Beach probably won't open to the public until Thanksgiving, even though the opening had been scheduled for September since construction began last year, officials said this week.

No specific date has been set for a grand opening for the the $3.5 million fishing structure at Fourth Avenue North.

For safety and liability reasons, the city doesn't want to open the pier until it finishes the adjacent brick-lined SeaWalk and parking lot that's fenced off for construction, said City Manager George Forbes.

As part of its financial contribution to the pier project, Jacksonville Beach has landscaped and expanded the parking lot at Fourth Avenue North to 220 spaces and extended the city's brick-lined SeaWalk to Sixth Avenue North. But paving the pier construction site was put on hold until the pier was finished.

Tom Goldsbury, Jacksonville's building division chief and the pier project manager, said postponing the pier's opening makes sense.

"It's just dangerous walking through a construction site," Goldsbury said.

The 1,300-foot-long concrete fishing structure is still on schedule for completion by late September. The pier will be 20 feet wide and have a concession stand, bait shop, restrooms and a T-shaped area at the end for the city's annual fireworks display.

Workers recently poured the cement for the last cap column, extending the structure to its final length. After completing the T-shaped head of the pier, they'll work on details such as railings, lights and water lines.

The pier's construction schedule was delayed repeatedly since Jacksonville bought the former pier in March 2000 from a private owner. That pier closed in late 1999 after Hurricane Floyd nearly destroyed it.

After waiting all those years and banking on the September opening date, Neptune Beach resident John Maguire said he was dismayed to learn it will take a few more months before he can fish from the pier. …

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