OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s iconic fishing pier, destroyed by the winds and surf of Superstorm Sandy, will be rebuilt in time for the summer 2013 season.
A large section of the pier that was battered during the Oct. 29-30 storm ended up disappearing into the ocean after the clouds parted. Some pilings were left standing, which have since been removed so as not to present a navigational hazard to boats, according to Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan.
“Those pilings take a tremendous beating. It’s amazing how well they are built, what they can withstand. But this time, they just snapped under the pressure of it,” Meehan said.
Meehan also said the most-asked question he heard during the storm was, “Is the pier OK?”
“People recognize it has tremendous importance to the town and the visitors who come to Ocean City,” he said.
Still, this icon of the resort doesn’t belong to the town, not really. For decades, Ocean City has offered a franchise agreement for pier control, for a price. The current franchise holder, Charles R. “Buddy” Jenkins, already has committed to rebuilding the pier, according to Meehan.
Jenkins did not return multiple calls seeking comment.
The agreement gives the franchisee authority to maintain and operate the amusement and fishing pier. By its terms, the pier has to be rebuilt to 489 feet long and 20 feet wide.
The franchisee is allowed to extend the pier 140 feet if the shorelines moves seaward — part of the contract that existed long before the town embarked upon beach replenishment efforts — but it remains their responsibility to replace what was damaged.
Jenkins took over the pier in 1975.
The current pier franchise agreement was adopted by mayor and council in 1979, after an ice storm literally froze the ocean. Melting ice floes floated south and clobbered the pier, demolishing about 140 feet at the pier’s eastern end.
The 50-year agreement ends in 2029, and Jenkins must pay the town 150 percent of the assessed value of the pier each year — a figure not available Monday — as well as $2,000 to lease town-owned parking spots at the Inlet.
Meehan noted that maintaining that pier is a costly proposition, as will be the cost of making the repairs.
When the pier agreement was re-upped after the ice storm, the town agreed to a leave it at its newly truncated length. The town may revoke the agreement if the franchisee for two years doesn’t maintain the pier in “good, safe and presentable condition.”