JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – After looking into concerns from the pier operator and a city councilman that the Jacksonville Beach pier is falling apart, News4Jax learned that the pier is not regularly inspected for safety.
The Public Works director said city personnel come out to the pier when they're called by the operator about a problem, but they don't do regular inspections.
The operator told News4Jax the pier is falling apart, and nobody's really doing anything about it.
Even on a gloomy, misty day the pier attracts a number of visitors. Those who have been coming to the pier since it opened 10 years ago said they've seen it deteriorate in the last year or so.
"It does need some work on it. It really does," fisherman Wayne Brooks said. "Especially out there on the end. It needs work down there."
Last summer, the city had to make emergency repairs and replace some supports underneath the pier. That cost about $100,000. As for upkeep and maintenance, the mayor's office said Mayor Alvin Brown proposed repairs to the pier in 2015, but the City Council did not fund the proposed $850,000.
"They wanted to borrow money to spend it on capital maintenance, which I am opposed to," City Councilman Bill Gulliford said. "You need to pay as you go with something like that. You don't need to borrow money to do that. We need to come up with ways you could fund it."
Gulliford has been raising questions about the pier and the lack of maintenance it receives.
He met Wednesday with a group concerned about the pier, including city officials from Jacksonville Beach. He said some of the options they are looking at may be trying to get a local group to operate the pier and changing the amount of money the city receives from patrons.
Right now Jacksonville only gets 10 percent of the profits. That might change with a new contract.
Gulliford said he's not surprised the city doesn't regularly inspect the pier.
"We do that all the time, it seems like. Nobody inspected Liberty Street apparently, so that's not surprising," he said.
Liberty Street now has a gaping hole that opened up two months ago, when part of the street fell into the St. Johns River. That has yet to be repaired.