HUNTINGTON BEACH — Construction of a new pier, which was supposed to begin this summer, has been postponed until fall under a new city timetable.
The pier timetable is to be presented to the City Council at its meeting tonight. The new schedule calls for the city to begin advertising May 7 for construction contract bids, to award a contract July 2, to start demolishing the pier July 23 and to begin construction Nov. 1, with completion by Feb. 28, 1992.
The city had previously planned to open the new pier by September, 1991, on Labor Day.
Mayor Thomas J. Mays called the timetable changes relatively minor and said the project is essentially forging ahead with no major problems.
"There's a little slippage in the construction start, but we're still planning on starting demolition of the old pier in July," Mays said. "We're getting to the point of seeing reality, and we'll soon be going through the bid process."
Councilman John Erskine, a member of the city's Pier Design Committee, also said he sees no problem with the delay in starting work on the new pier. "I don't think it's falling behind," he said. "Not starting construction this summer is probably a positive thing because it gives a little more time to plan the design of the new pier."
The historic concrete pier has been closed since July, 1988. The city shut it down after engineers warned that it had become hazardous. In January, 1988, a storm wiped out the end of the pier, including the End Cafe.
Plans call for the new pier to be the focal point of a renovated downtown, which is already being extensively redeveloped.
"The pier is still our No. 1 priority for capital improvement in the city," Mays said.
The city's main concern now is raising the final $3.5 million to $4 million. It is starting a campaign to solicit private money, the mayor said.
Last month, the city's volunteer Pier Fund-Raising Committee announced that $7.5 million of the estimated $11 million cost of the new pier had been raised. The panel recommended that the city seek a professional fund-raiser to get the remaining money.
Councilman Wes Bannister, however, strongly objected to hiring a fund-raiser at the council's Feb. 5 meeting. He said Huntington Beach and most of the county are already blanketed with scores of fund-raising activities, so he doubts that the city can raise another $3.5 million, even with a professional fund-raiser.
Bannister suggested that the city instead float a bond issue for the final $3.5 million.
Mays, who personally favors hiring a professional fund-raiser, said Friday that he thinks a bond issue for the pier should "only be used as a last resort."
He added: "I think we need to be able to tell the public, before we proceed with a bond issue vote, that we have tried all other avenues first."
A majority City Council vote would be needed to place a bond issue on the city's November ballot, Mays noted.
The mayor said Huntington Beach will continue to seek more federal, state and county money, in addition to that already pledged. About $1 million has been pledged so far for the pier from the federal government; $2 million from the state; $1.25 million from the county, and $3.5 million from the city.
Mays said it is not necessary to have all $11 million for the new pier "in hand" before construction starts, so the timetable being presented Monday can be accommodated even if the fund-raising is not completed before the July 23 demolition start date for the old pier.