unlikely to open this season
By IRENE NOLAN
Tod and Angie Gaskill had hoped to re-open part of the damaged Frisco
Pier this season, but it seems unlikely now that will happen.
In April, there was a lot of activity around the area, as the owners
and their family members and friends worked to clean up the pier house
and stock it with fishing tackle, gift and souvenir items, and cold
drinks and snacks.
The Frisco Pier, which was built in 1962, has been battered by
hurricanes and northeasters over the years and especially since the
Gaskills bought it shortly after Hurricane Isabel in 2003.
continued assault by the ocean has taken its toll, and the end of the
pier is buckled and in precarious shape.
The pier was not open last year at all, much to the disappointment of
local and visiting anglers and Frisco businesses.
In April, the pier was barricaded about halfway down the length of the
structure. The Gaskills think that part is safe enough to open for
business to anglers and sightseers this season.
However, the Park Service doesn’t think that much of the pier is safe.
The Gaskills and the Park Service have had ongoing discussions about
getting the pier re-opened.
Mike Murray, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore,
said last month that the Park Service hired an engineering firm to
study the structural integrity of the pier.
That study was completed last month, but Murray said yesterday that he
had not received the final report.
He added that preliminary reports from the study indicate that the pier
is safe only to the third set of pilings, which isn’t very far from the
pier house door.
The preliminary information indicates that fasteners on the rest of the
pilings are “delaminated and fatigued.”
Park officials also determined that the barricade that the Gaskills
erected at the end of the part of the pier they wanted to open was did
not meet their safety specifications.
“We have advised them of our safety concerns,” Murray said. “Now the
owners need to make a business decision.”
The Gaskills take issue with the Park Service’s safety concerns, but
for now their hands are tied.
“They just set too many restrictions,” Angie Gaskill said yesterday,
adding that the Park Service wanted a chain link fence barrier.
“It was our intent to try to open part of it,” Angie Gaskill said
yesterday. “But we can open only a very small part of it.”
The area from the pier house out to the third piling isn’t even over
the water most of the time, she said.
“We know it’s an important and popular attraction, and we want to see
it opened,” Murray said.
That’s also the Gaskills goal.
“I want to see it cleaned up and functioning for the locals and the
visitors,” Gaskill said last summer. “I grew up on the island in the
seafood business….It’s a landmark here.”
Tod Gaskill said in an interview published on The Island Free Press
last summer that he and his wife put $100,000 into the pier to repair
the damage from Isabel, and had put another $50,000 into the structure
each year since then.
He said his initial work to shore up the pier was complicated by the
fact that he received a shipment of bad pilings, which should have
lasted at least 20 years and have not lasted five.
He estimated last summer that at least 100 of the 130 pilings shoring
up the pier need to be replaced.
The Gaskills, who own Top Dollar Construction in Frisco, said the
estimate to fix the pier for the long-term is about $250,000.
Seashore officials have met with the Gaskills to talk about what
funding might be available to help restore the pier. However, Murray
said, finding funding sources from the Park Service or other public
agencies is problematic since the pier is privately owned.
Tod Gaskill has been working in Galveston, Tex., for the past several
years, repairing damage from Hurricane Ike.
But, he said last year that’s not the reason he has not addressed the
problems with the pier.
The problem is money. Last year, he said he did not spend the $50,000
to $75,000 he estimated it would take to open the pier because of the
Gaskill added that the pier has not been a big moneymaker.
“I didn’t buy this thing to make money,” he said.
He said they have made a modest profit, but “it’s not a big prospering
business,” and it’s not made enough to cover the money he has had to
put into repairing it.
The Park Service and the owners both want to see the Frisco Pier
repaired and fully functional.
However, that is not going to happen this season.