OCEAN CITY — The iconic Ocean City Fishing Pier, one of the lasting symbols of the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, will be repaired and replaced likely in time for the next summer season, Mayor Rick Meehan confirmed this week.
The famous pier, which dates back over 100 years, is an iconic symbol of the resort and almost every image of the downtown area features the historic structure prominently in the background. It was one of the first casualties when Hurricane Sandy arrived in the Ocean City area late Sunday night, Oct. 28, and into the next morning as heavy surf and high winds battered much of the easternmost section of the pier.
Two weeks later, with most of the storm damage cleaned up and repairs underway in most of the affected areas of the resort, the damaged pier remains as a constant symbol of Ocean City’s near brush with disaster. However, the intention is to restore the historic pier to its original glory, repairs that will likely be completed before the next summer season.
“That’s the plan,” Meehan said this week. “One of the most interesting things is that during the height of the storm with everything going on, the one thing people kept asking me about was the condition of the pier. It’s such an iconic structure and an important piece of Ocean City history that it will be rebuilt and restored.”
The town of Ocean City owns the pier, which juts eastward from the Boardwalk at Wicomico Street for nearly 500 feet, but it is franchised to a local private company, headed by Charles “Buddy” Jenkins, which owns and operates the amusement park and other attractions on the structure. Meehan said this week he has had conversations with Jenkins about the immediate future of the structure and a plan is place to completely restore the pier.
“I’ve had conversations with Mr. Jenkins and assures me they have every intention of returning the pier to its former length,” he said. “He called and let me know they have already removed some of the damaged pilings that could present some risks in terms of navigation and they are making plans for a complete repair.”
Meehan said the proposed timetable includes a completion date before the arrival of the next summer season, but the task will be difficult and complicated. The mayor said one of the earliest roadblocks could be finding the materials needed to complete the job.
“They are already looking into ordering the materials, but some might not be readily available,” he said. “With all of the damage to piers, boardwalks and other waterfront structures up and down the coast, the poles and pilings needed are already in high demand.”
Nonetheless, Meehan said Ocean City was fortunate to just lose the eastern end of its symbolic pier compared to some of the damage suffered by its northern neighbors.
“As the storm went north and we all saw those pictures of the devastation, I think we all realize just how fortunate we were,” he said. “We lost the easternmost end of our historic pier and that makes a significant difference in a symbol of our downtown area, but it can be and will be replaced.”