Pier restoration still a slow go

The condition of Malibu Pier is not as bad as government officials initially feared, but significant work is required to restore the basic structure, according to a recent state inspection.

A major concern for the state Department of Parks and Recreation was the pilings supporting the pier, especially after the punishment they took from the rough waters during this year’s stormy winter. “There are fewer damaged pilings than people thought,” said John W. Foster, a state senior archaeologist and diver. “It seems sturdy to me, but it definitely does need to be fixed up.”

About 28 percent of the pilings are damaged or missing, Foster estimated, including one area of the pier with several rows of damaged pilings.

Foster is part of a group of state divers, archaeologists, engineers, architects and historians who have been inspecting the pier for the last month to determine how much restoration work is required before the pier is made safe enough to be open to the public, according to Russ Guiney, supervisor of state parks for the Angeles district.

The group should complete its evaluation within the next week or so, Guiney said. The actual restoration will have to wait until various government agencies, such as the Coastal Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, have given their approval and a contractor is chosen to do the work, Guiney explained. He expected improvements to be made no sooner than January.

The state has allocated $900,000 for the restoration, which is only enough to cover the most basic structural improvements. “It’s not a final cure-all,” Guiney said, but he added state parks will request additional money in the future from the state legislature in order to continue beyond the “phase one” stage of restoration.

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With more money in its coffers due to a budget surplus, the state is having second thoughts about giving up management of the pier to Malibu, which has already hired a consultant to prepare a business plan. “They [Malibu officials] want to make sure [the pier] pays for itself. At the same time, now that the state has money, the state may want to operate the pier,” Guiney said.

Last week, Guiney met with City Manager Harry Peacock, City Treasurer Peter Lippman and city consultant Larry Williams of Williams-Kuebelbeck & Associates (W-K). The city and the state “are continuing to talk and share information,” according to Guiney, who described the work being done by W-K as “complementary” to the state’s restoration efforts.

Both sides agree that, no matter who ends up operating the pier, “the ambiance and appearance should stay as is,” Guiney explained. The present pier has been around since 1945, according to Foster, replacing the original built by the Rindge family. “It’s been a landmark on the Malibu coast for a long, long time,” Foster said.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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