Fires on piers costly to city

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A casual stroll down Lakefront Pier on Port Arthur’s Pleasure Island offers a picturesque view of Sabine Lake with areas to stop and cast a line or relax and sit under a blue metal roofed gazebo.

But lately the wooden walkout pier has come under fire, so to speak, by persons burning items on the structure.

“Burning has been a big problem for a long time,” Jimmy Dike, director of the Pleasure Island Commission, said. “People will light little fires at night to keep the mosquitoes away.”

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Those so-called little fires cause big problems. A recent fire left a hole the size of a king sized mattress on the pier, Dike said.

“Repairs can be costly,” he said. “The last one cost $800 to fix the 10-foot by 10-foot hole.”

An even more recent set of small fires was recognized by the Port Arthur Fire Department.

“For those who use fishing piers in the area: this is what happens when items are burned in an effort to keep the mosquitoes away,” according to a post on the PAFD Facebook site. “Please use insect repellent instead of smoke to keep the bugs away.”

The same kind of damage can happen when portable grills are used on the wooden piers or pavilions instead of on the ground. Citations can be issued to those who are found burning items on the piers.

The Facebook post is accompanied by a set of photos showing burn damage that goes all the way through the wood.

Dike said as soon as an issue is noted repairs are made.

The pier itself is fairly new having been opened about three years ago, he said. The original pier was knocked out during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Pleasure Island used to sport two sets of additional walkout piers, one set on the North Levee Road and one set on the South Levee Road. Those piers and roads were totally destroyed during Ike. They were temporarily closed in the fall of 2009 so contractors cold remove storm debris, replace culverts and water control structures and raise and rebuild the roadways. The original contract for both roads came in at $14.9 million but with modifications the cost jumped to $16 million, an official with the U.S. Corps of Engineers said in a 2010 archive story.

The piers on the levee roads were not rebuilt because the elevation of the roads did not allow for parking access.

Mary Meaux: 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews