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Ventura Pier Section Opens, but Ultimate Fate Is Unclear

July 07, 1988|JEFF GORDINIER | Times Staff Writer

Two and a half years after the ravages of a winter storm forced its closing, the Ventura Pier will reopen Friday at 8:30 a.m.

In a brief, low-key ceremony, State Park District Supt. Steve Treanor will open 1,200 feet of the popular 1,600-foot relic for fishing and strolling. The end of the pier will remain closed to the public.

The state of California, which has owned the pier since 1949, has spent eight months and $150,000 replacing the structure's deck, rails and piles. But Treanor said those repairs are only an interim measure to clamp the pier together until city and state officials decide what to do with it.

"The work that's been done is just basic Band-Aid work," Treanor said. "There's been no resolution on whether or not total renovation will be done at all."

Treanor estimated that a complete overhaul would cost the state $2.5 million and demolishing the pier would cost $500,000. He said the state will probably do the latter unless the city of Ventura takes over ownership of the 117-year-old jetty, an option that requires not only funds but a plan to bring additional commercial development to the pier.

Such development could generate the $115,000 needed each year for maintenance and emergency reserves.

Joan Cardellino, whose Oakland-based California Coastal Conservancy has researched the pier's commercial potential, said the city is still analyzing the retail options.

The pier has been wrestling with both the elements and the economy since it opened in 1872. High waves destroyed the wharf five years after opening day, and again in 1914 and 1926. After a 1934 fire, high costs drowned all hope to make the pier a bustling commercial dock.

When the pier took its last beating in 1986, a local Pier Steering Committee collected 15,000 signatures from citizens urging the state to repair the pier, and issued a report in June, 1987, suggesting that the time had come for the pier to change hands.

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