A planned overhaul of Tacoma’s Old Town Dock – fenced off for more than two years – could have the historic pier spruced up and reopened to the public by 2013, city officials said this week.
With the Tacoma City Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday of a $319,000 contract with project engineers Reid Middleton, city public works officials expect final designs and permits to be in place by August 2012, with restoration work completed sometime the next year.
“A lot of folks are going to wonder, `Well, why is it going to take so long?’” Councilman David Boe asked Facilities Division Manager Jeff Jenkins, who briefed the council on the project Tuesday.
“The current plan takes into account about a 14-month permit process and having to work around fish-windows,” Jenkins responded. “…There’s an in-water closure (to work) from February to July every year.”
Still, there’s a chance the project could be sped up, Jenkins said — if regulators consider the work to be repairs rather than new construction. If that happens, he said, there won’t be a need to conduct additional environmental mitigations. That could shave down the permitting process by about 8 months, Jenkins said.
Dating to 1873, the Old Town Dock is a familiar city landmark off Schuster Parkway. It was closed to the public in July 2008 for “public safety reasons due mostly to structural degradation and a lack of handrails,” Jenkins said.
The dock’s closure actually puts the city in violation of an agreement it holds with the Washington State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation that requires the structure to be open for water-based activities. Since the dock’s shuttering, studies have determined the extent of needed repairs and established a budget for restoration.
The city is now partnered with Metro Parks Tacoma in a 50-50 cost sharing agreement that provides up to $2 million toward anticipated costs, Jenkins said.
The contract with Reid Middleton will be covered by city long-term general obligation bonds approved by the council last year and park improvement bonds approved by voters in 2005.
“Metro Parks, the city and a citizen advisory group are managing the efforts to ensure the final project meets the needs of the public as a functional, aesthetically pleasing amenity,” Jenkins added.
Among other things, the restoration project will replace the dock’s failing piles and install a new deck, gazebo, flag pole, hand rails and lights, records show. It will also repair a transient moorage dock and replace off-shooting finger piers.
“This is great to be at this point,” said Councilman Jake Fey, who added Old Town businesses and residents “have been wondering for some time whether we were going to leave the chain link fence around this dock (or) put it back to use.”