Town Council Spending $10,000 to Patch up Fishing Pier

Cape Charles Wave

January 29, 2013

Cape Charles Town Council faced a Catch-22 at its January 24 meeting: Wait until September for federal funding to repair or replace the fishing pier damaged by Hurricane Sandy — or fix it at Town expense and risk forfeiting funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

But the decision was unanimous: Council could not accept keeping the pier closed through the summer, and so voted to patch it up at Town expense.

The hope was still that FEMA eventually would pay to replace the heavily damaged portion of the pier, which is the part built alongside the jetty.

But Town staff were less optimistic than at the previous Council meeting, when Public Works Director Dave Fauber had said that “FEMA is going to be dumping a lot of money in it to fix it and fix it right this time.”

Now, Town staff are worrying that FEMA is too preoccupied by the storm damage in New Jersey to give priority to Cape Charles.

Council’s dream is to build a new section of pier away from the jetty, closer to the harbor, connecting to the deeper water portion of the existing pier. The cost could be upwards of $300,000.

Unfortunately, FEMA would not bear any of that cost — the agency is willing only to repair or replace an existing structure, not build a new one.

So the Town plans to fix up the old pier just enough to be safe for the summer.

The Catch-22? If the Town does too good a job on repairs, FEMA might decide the pier doesn’t need to be replaced.

Wave Attenuators Get Thumbs Up

In other business, Town Council voted to move forward with plans to build floating wave attenuators at the entrance to the Town Harbor.

Vice Mayor Chris Bannon said he had received a number of calls from people concerned about the “Lego”-style floating attenuators shown in a January 21 Wave video. He emphasized that the wave attenuators the Town is considering are far more substantial and will also function as floating docks.

Various kinds of wave attenuators are available, depending on the type of wave action causing the problem.

Harbor Master Smitty Dize said the life expectancy of a floating attenuator is about 20 years if properly maintained. “Putting in floating attenuators would not preclude building more [stone] breakwaters in the future,” he said.

The plan is to share the cost of wave attenuators with South Port Investors, which is building a yacht repair facility next to the Coast Guard Station.

Council did not decide any specifics or costs, voting only to “proceed with wave attenuators.”

Water Fee Waiver Request Gets Further Study

Town Council also considered South Port’s request to waive unpaid water bills totaling $5,366 on a lot leased from the Town. South Port had removed a building that once stood on the property, so no water had actually been used. But Town code requires charging the minimum monthly water fee on any lot that once had a water connection.

Councilman Steve Bennett made a motion to waive the fees, but other members questioned why an exception should be made for South Port.

Councilman Mike Sullivan argued that if Council were to forgive one person, it should forgive all owners of vacant property receiving water bills.

Council ultimately decided to schedule a workshop on the issue.

In the meantime, Council voted to allow South Port to hook up new water and sewer lines in spite of the delinquent bill.

Peach Street Sidewalk Grant Request

Council also approved applying for a further grant for sidewalks and medians on the north end of Peach Street and Washington Avenue. Council previously authorized spending a $100,000 grant for an engineering study for the sidewalks.

This would be phase two of the multi-use trail project. Phase 1 was the paths in Central Park.



5 Responses to “Town Council Spending $10,000 to Patch up Fishing Pier”

  1. Kearn Schemm on January 29th, 2013 8:50 am

    If the town had just kept the $40,000 insurance proceeds from the Old School, we would have plenty to pay for the pier repairs.

  2. Steve Downs on January 29th, 2013 12:39 pm

    Good idea to forgive everybody their water fees on vacant or unused lots and buildings AND stop doing it. It amounts to robbery anyway. Pay for nothing? What a brilliant concept. Maybe the town could apply it to other things ….

  3. Linda Burke on January 29th, 2013 1:44 pm

    The Town Council throws money at Echelon ad nauseum, but won’t forgive a disputed debt to a business that will increase tourism in Cape Charles? Come on Town Council — get real.

  4. Deborah Bender on January 30th, 2013 7:48 am

    Leave it to Cape Charles to whine about the fishing pier and no money from FEMA! Of course FEMA has lots of money — but homeless people take priority over a fishing pier. Cape Charles will just have to suck it up and invest their own money. They can come up with $$$ for everything else. Maybe they could apply the water bill money they collect from South Port to the pier. And YES — South Port needs to pay their water bill. If the town lets them off the hook they are going to make a lot of people angry big-time. Plenty of people have purchased homes that were in really bad shape and while they worked on the houses, like it or not they had to pay water bills. Suck it up South Port and PAY YOUR BILL!

  5. Chip Moore on January 30th, 2013 5:04 pm

    I agree with Deborah 100%, why should FEMA / US Taxpayer pay to repair a fishing pier? The US Government cannot pay for everything! We as a nation are almost bankrupt now — keep the repair cost local!