Every city great and small has its iconic signature: Seattle’s Needle, Rome’s Coliseum, Alliance’s Carhenge, Paris’s Eiffel and Palm Coast’s water tower (give it a break, it’s a city in progress). For Flagler Beach, it’s the Pier and its sharply angled A-frame, its two sides’ 12 white letters spelling out the town’s name to horizons north and south.
Flagler Beach almost lost its identity in late March. The letters were gone, the shingles were gone, though like a tattoo to eternity the eye could still discern the letters’ imprint on the wood frame. The structure is getting its first re-shingling in 24 years, a $9,360 job carried out by Florida’s Best Roofing Inc., the Bunnell company.
It’s the fourth reconstruction of Pier-related structures in the last four years, in time–intentionally or not–for the city’s upcoming centennial. In 2017 the Pier itself, originally built in 1929 and lobotomized down to 637 feet (from 800) by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, reopened after an extensive, nearly $1 million replanking of 600 floorboards and foundational repairs by Construction Co. The Pier had been closed for eight months to accommodate the repairs. Then AWS Roofing put a new roof on the Funky Pelican restaurant in early 2019 for $52,000 (the restaurant is privately run but the city is still its landlord). Those repairs were initiated by then-City Manager Larry Newsom and approved by the city commission. Reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Administration in the wake of hurricanes Matthew and Irma defrayed much of the cost.
Early last year, using in part Tourist Development Council money, the city rebuilt the Pier’s and A-frame’s structural underpinning, an elaborate $150,000 job by Samsula Marine Division
that replaced steel plates and through bolts on the A-frame itself.
Back in 1996 Alann Engineering Group renovated the A-frame, pedestrian areas and bathrooms for $19,250. It was time for a reroofing, this time for half that cost.
“This project has been long overdue,” City Commission Chairman Eric Cooley said. “Our pier is the Number 1 landmark of the County. It is important that it looks and is in the condition that displays the pride and love our city has for it. The pier is a reflection of the last five to six years of challenges our city has overcome. The timing of addressing needed repairs and the facelift falls right in line with methodically moving forward. I see the pier every day from my business and I am excited about the changes.” Cooley owns the 7-Eleven on South Oceanshore Boulevard, a few steps down from the Pier.
The roof will get new letters. A literal signature to the project, those are appropriately being done in-house by the city’s maintenance crews, who have cut new letters from pressure-treated plywood and are about to paint them white before installation. The letters haven’t always been white: images from the late 1950s or early 60s, framed in gas-guzzling finned cars of the era, show the city’s name in scarlet letters. Between that and the structure’s shape perhaps the association was too evocative of poor old Hester Prynne, and the city wisely switched to white.
“Our maintenance department took them down. They’ll put them back up once they’re painted,” City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said. A builder himself, he’s been keeping a personal, daily tab on the work. “I thought it was pretty essential, especially the hardware upgrade, to maintain our icon. I’m extremely happy to know the A-frame will be there for a while.”