The new Flagler Beach pier will be much higher than the current pier–11 feet higher. It’ll be concrete, overtopped by wood panels. It’ll be 800 feet long, preserving the first, wooden 100 feet as a nod to its history. And it’ll be designed and built to withstand the reality and rapidity of of climate change: intensifying storms, more frequent high-wave events, and an anticipated sea rise of a foot or two over the next 50 to 100 years.
That’s what the team from Moffat and Nichol, the firm Flagler Beach hired to design the replacement team, told a throng of city residents and officials Tuesday evening. They turned out to get their first look at what the new pier will look like, from a very conceptual perspective, when it will be built, and what it will cost. They’d also turned out at Moffat and Nichols’s invitation, to weigh in on the design.
“What we’re here to do is to design your pier, because this is your town and you will be the one using this pier,” Gabriel Perdomo, a coastal engineer who’s been with the firm 18 years, told the crowd at the Wickline Senior Center on South Daytona Avenue.
The plan is to complete the design, have all permits in hand and put the project out to bid in one year–January 2024. It would be under construction in the summer of 2024, and completed by the end of 2025. “It’s ambitious, but we’re always up for a good challenge. It’s doable,” Perdomo said to murmurs in the crowd. Whether the murmurs were delight or disbelief was unclear. Probably both.
Less clear are the costs ahead. The city had secured $10 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hurricane Matthew repairs, almost lost it–because of delays in getting the project going–but managed to reassure the federal agency. The new pier is expected to cost between $17 and $18 million. So the money in the bank won’t be enough to build the new pier, and additional funds have not been secured. On the other hand, FEMA takes account of inflation and increasing design costs, so that original $10 million may end up being larger, if still not quite enough to build the whole thing.
The length of the pier will affect cost, and vice versa. “We definitely are going to push for the 800 feet,” City Manager William Whitson said.
The three project goals are to replace the outer 700 feet of the pier, which has been made of wood for almost a century, with concrete. The first 100 feet would be preserved as wood, for its history and character. The goal is also to minimize environmental impacts and impacts on area businesses, especially as the city witnesses the soon-to-begin building of a 100-room hotel downtown, and, at least a year from now, a beach renourishment project south of the pier.
But those goals must be accomplished within the new challenges of rising seas and angrier storms.
Perdomo and especially Jackie Brower, the assistant project management on the project, combining the stark numbers and consequences of a now chronically more violent climate with bright images and the self-confidence of reassuring science and technology to show the crowd how adaptive design and concrete can cope with the new normal.
Brower did not sugarcoat that new normal.
While there’s been storms throughout the life of the pier, it’s now important to look at the kind of storm events that have been happening in more recent years, including, since Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Brower described them as “several more very historic events that really have statistically changed how we approach designing these piers.” Even if storms have not been increasing in frequency, “we do know that the intense storms are becoming more frequent.”
There’s been eight major storms where FEMA has allocated funding in the last seven years. That contrasts sharply with the lower number of previous decades. But that’s what Flagler BEach should expect in the future. “Actual statistics are changing,” Brower said, to the point of intensifying the kind of “wave events” that strike the shore. “This design that we’re doing for your pier is going to account for those changes.”
The way to withstand “these large storm events that are coming is to up our design,” Brower said. She showed two piers in Broward County that were damaged by recent storms. One of them was severed at its midsection. The other was not. Both were concrete piers. The difference? The one that survived getting sliced in half was higher, affording protection from “wave energy.” Expect a higher pier in Flagler Beach as well. Also expect wood paneling on top of the concrete “bone structure” that can “blow off” when it’s struck by waves.
The team is taking it as a given, at least for its design purp[oses, that the sea level will rise a foot and a half to two feet over the next 50 to 100 years. “We want to make sure that we consider that because the water depth affects the wave height which affects the forces that are imparted onto the pier,” Brower said.
That’s why, while the existing elevation of the pier’s deck is 17.8 feet above the mean sea level line, the new pier’s deck elevation will be 28 feet. “That considers sea level rise,” Brower said.
When the floor was open for questions, those had to do with preservation of existing pieces of the pier, the sea floor’s changes below the pier, whether it’ll still be largely just for fishing. It will not: the city is hoping to make it wider: “we see it as an event space,” Whitson said.
Flagler Beach Fishing Pier_Public Outreach #1 Presentation_DRAFT
Put a small visitor center at the beginning of it with a couple of bathrooms and some brochure racks to quiet those people up that keep screaming that the 5% hotel tax money can only be used for a visitor center. Which is not entirely true, but at least it would free up the rest of the money for the pier instead of a multi-million dollar visitor center that no one wants or needs.
Exactly, back when they wanted that vacant lot on A1A over the last couple of years or so, to be buying land at a premium like that makes no sense Put up an attraction coupon rack fro brochures & the like, just like they have at some of the I-95 rest stops have, maybe staff it with a person that serves a free paper cup of Orange Juice, like the state border of GA & FL does for tourists.
Thomas A Kaspar Jr says
Its 2023 not 1969 and Flagler has a small visitor center its called 7-11 . If tourist want a free souvenir they can dig up a potato in Bunnell . They did have a walkway with bathrooms between the restaurant and pier with all those brochures and drink machines for decades its not Castillo De San Marcos .
Pam Kitchens says
Nobody wants Flagler to become a commercialized tourist trap with big high rises and tourist centers. What makes Flagler fabulous is it’s quaintness. Once developers come in and start ruining that unique place , it’s over forever. Flagler will disappear into a mess like Daytona and Ormond . Just another congested tourist trap.
So with the higher elevation of the new pier, is it safe to assume that in 50 years the only thing facing the remnants of A1A will be this pier? Asking for a friend.
Kerry Smith says
How much is Al Gore going to contribute to this boondoggle?
Seriously, at this point, just patch the old one. More character anyway
Yes, just build another wood one only to replace it in a Few years.
At this point the dock is disposable and should be made of paper. A concrete one will last. Look at how long lighthouses last. You make it out of concrete properly and it will last everything.
Can’t wait until a cat 5 wipes all all the crap shacks along a1a.
Wasn’t the original plan to tear down this year with a new pier opening in 2024? I could be mistaken with all the articles. Price does seem a bit on the high side also.
Thomas A Kaspar JR says
700 feet really does not maximize fishing functionality and thus more revenues for the purchased pass . It was 806 for a half century to fish into schools at different temps , tides and seasons . Everyone living in Flagler a while knows this , we used to catch huge fish . Also the 28 foot height is utter nonsense and will look like pure hell . Look at pictures of the hurricane destroyed Ormond Pier it was too high . No evidence all opinions about the damaged pier in Pompano as the rebar was rusted and the base washed out . If Flagler Beach gets a direct CAT 4-5 hit the high pier is of no concern it will be just an orange sand bar with a fresh cut channel to the Intracoastal waterway . It should be kept the same height to preserve the vibe and feel which is the whole point of Flagler Beach as an attraction . Do not screw up the height .
C. J. says
Agreed. At that height it becomes a weapon and could wipe out A1A and the buildings behind it!
Fish On says
I’ll be dead and cremated by the time they get this pier completed. At least I got to fish for 15 years on the old pier. Miss those summer days of catching Cobia, Tarpon, Caberra Snappers, King Mackerl off the end of the pier.