Fort Foster pier to be closed pending repairs

from the Portsmouth Herald Online

By Deborah McDermott

June 18, 2014 2:00 AM

imagesKITTERY, Maine — The pier at Fort Foster will be closed through the summer, as it was last year, as the town works to solve the problem of repairing or replacing it. The pier was severely damaged in a storm in February 2013, but the money the town received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and through an insurance claim, some $50,000, is only a fraction of the actual cost to replace it. Parks Commission Chairman Page Mead said replacement costs could top $300,000 or more. “We know people want that pier and we’re embarrassed that we haven’t come up with a solution by now,” Mead said. The pier was originally constructed to hold the weight of vehicles, and when the town put out bids last year for its reconstruction, it was with replacement of the original pier in mind. “When we were out there” earlier this spring, “we said, ‘Why do we need vehicles to be on the pier?'” said Town Manager Nancy Colbert Puff. Only pedestrians currently use the pier. “We are coming around to realizing we don’t have to replace it,” Mead said. Part of the concern was that FEMA might pull funding if the pier wasn’t replaced, “but as far as we understand, FEMA is OK with not having it replaced in kind.” Mead said the hope is that the funding already set aside might be sufficient to repair “a good portion” of the damaged pier. Colbert Puff said this goal is being pursued because, otherwise, the town would have to find the money in its capital improvement program to make up the difference. “And that would ax a lot of other projects,” she said. Colbert Puff said Fort Foster visitors are told as they arrive that the pier will not be open this summer. Mead said the Parks Commission will come before the Town Council soon to lay out its plan to repair the pier for foot traffic instead of replacing it for vehicle weight. “We may not be able to do it all in one year, but I think we could fix a good portion of it so that people can start to use it” in the summer of 2015, he said. Work is anticipated to begin in the fall.

Fort Foster Passes

• $10 for all vehicles, one-time use •

Residents: season passes available are $20, $5 for seniors over 62; a second pass is $5.

•Nonresident passes: $60; $15 for a second pass

• Walkers, $5 per person per adult, $1 children under 12