The Redondo fishing pier will remain closed until further notice as city of Des Moines officials decide on a reconstruction plan for the pier, bulkheads and restroom facilities along the waterfront.
Repair of all three elements would cost approximately $7.2 million, and each project is expected to be finished in a two to four-year timeline if the Des Moines Council decides to move ahead with this construction plan.
Brandon Carver, city of Des Moines Public Works director, presented an update to the council at Thursday night’s council meeting on Sept. 5.
The Redondo fishing pier was initially closed to the public due to safety concerns regarding the deteriorating structural integrity of the pier’s pillars on July 11.
As the pier and supportive pillars are underwater for a majority of the time, “these timber piers tend to rot from the inside out,” Carver said, noting the pier’s structural integrity isn’t visible from the outside.
Upon closure, a team of structural inspectors took action the very next day and following weeks, Carver said, who confirmed the structure is unsafe and should remain closed.
The Public Works consultant team is now looking for alternative options to restore or reconstruct the fishing pier, bulkheads and the pillars that support the restroom facilities. The city is also considering relocating the restrooms, Carver said.
City staff’s recommendation is to replace the pier entirely to meet current marine standards, Carver reported to the council Thursday night.
“It certainly is not cheap,” he said.
Replacing only the fishing pier is estimated to cost $2.5 million and the process from permitting to construction completion would take approximately four years, Carver said.
The new and improved pier would be built similar to the reconstructed boardwalk, with a sustainable, concrete structure with the potential to “last at least half a century,” Carver explained, although stating the project’s design details are not finalized yet.
The downside to the recommendation though, Carver said, is that city staff encourages the pier to remain closed to the public.
A significant investment doesn’t happen overnight, Carver said.
Other alternatives presented at the meeting included a short-term, six-month repair plan and a mid-term repair option estimated to take two to three years.
Short-term repairs are estimated to cost $100,000 and would allow the pier to reopen within six months, but the pier would have a shorter lifespan of about two years, Carver said.
This “Band-Aid” fix type of strategy would use beams and brackets along the top of the deck or below deck to span over the piling where structural integrity has been reduced, Carver said.
In a sense it would be “bridging the bad,” Carver said because due to risk of tidal debris or logs, access to the pier would be closed during high tide events and would be susceptible to limited accessibility during major storms or other severe environmental conditions. The short-term repairs would also require monthly inspections.
The new boardwalk is the ideal look and feel the city is hoping to replicate as it replaces the fishing pier, Carver said, noting the use of concrete piles, concrete beams and a decking structure with long life capability.
The mid-term repair option, for approximately $400,000, would allow the pier to open within two to three years by replacing the failing timber piles. The lifespan of the pier after completion of this option would last about 10 years, Carver said.
Aside from the pier, Redondo’s bulkheads and the supportive pillars for the restroom also need repairs.
“They don’t last forever,” Carver said.
Diving into a financial breakdown of the reconstruction plans, repair of all three elements totals an estimated $7.2 million.
It is expected to cost $2.5 million for the fishing pier, an additional $920,000 for the relocation of Redondo’s restroom facilities, and about $3.76 million for the replacement of the timber bulkheads between the Redondo boating ramp to Highline College’s MaST Center.
Each project is expected to be finished in a two to four-year timeline depending on the approval of required federal permitting, Carver said.
If the council decides to tackle the replacements holistically as one combined project, there is an opportunity to bring the costs down, Carver said.
The decision to combine the three projects would save about 15-25% of costs for engineering and construction expenses, ringing in for a total of approximately $5.9 million.
The council also is hoping to open a conversation with Salty’s on Redondo Beach, a privately-owned restaurant along the waterfront, which also sits atop timber piles.
“The last thing I would like to see is some sort of catastrophic event down there with a place full of people …” said Vic Pennington, deputy mayor of Des Moines and incoming fire chief for South King Fire and Rescue. He also suggested the council look into working with or at least alerting the business of the safety concerns.
The Mirror has reached out to Salty’s for comment.
At Thursday’s meeting, council member Matt Mahoney said the $5.9 million option seems like a “no-brainer” to which Carver agreed.
The decision is strictly dependant on the function of funding, Carver told the Mirror. While there is little to no benefit of separating the projects, it comes down to the amount and ability of the city to collect sufficient funds, he said.
“If we can combine one project with three … why wouldn’t you? It’s based on funding,” he explained.
Pennington questioned whether this project would raise the taxes of Des Moines or Redondo residents.
“From a property taxes standpoint, not at all,” Carver said about potential tax increases for residents.
“We see these facilities as a regional draw, a regional asset,” Carver said. “We [would] approach it with a grant strategy.”
The city would look at funding options available through grants and if needed, Carver said, draw from existing taxes. At the meeting, City Manager Michael Matthias reminded the council the updated boardwalk was $4.4 million in total, and the city received about $4 million in grants to pay for it, leaving the city with only 10% of the bill.
Ultimately, the construction plan decision is up to the Des Moines Council on whether to include the Redondo reconstruction in the city’s 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Plan. The decision will be brought forward at the next council meeting Thursday, Sept. 26.
As of now, the Parks division is figuring out how to pull together funds to begin preliminary project designs and looking for grant options, Carver said.
As squidding season approaches, hundreds of people take to the Redondo pier from October through December, said marina headmaster Scott Wilkins.
In order to accommodate people during the pier’s closure, the city of Des Moines will start promoting a fishing pier pass at the marina, a $25 pass that provides in-and-out, 24/7 access to the Des Moines Marina. Passholders will be allowed behind secured locked gates and have free parking at Redondo among other benefits, Wilkins said.
In the past, Des Moines leadership and financial state provided difficulties in their ability to address waterfront and parks issues.
“When we weren’t in as good of shape, they didn’t get paid attention to,” said council member Matt Pina. Now the city is in a position to react and do the job well, he said.