City gets check for pier damaged by ship wakes
City Attorney Mike Morris forwarded a check for $32,912.08 from the shipping company's lawyers to City Manager Michael Kovacs last week. That's in settlement of the city's claims for pier damage done Jan. 16, when a wake from the tanker SKS Tiete, owned by SKS Obo Holding Ltd., of Bergen, Norway, took out about 32 feet of the popular fishing pier, leaving about a dozen anglers stranded on the pier until a Coast Guard boat could pluck them off and deliver them to shore.
Almost two months to the day later, on March 18, another wake - this one from the tanker Atlas Explorer, swept another length of the pier into the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. No one was injured or stranded in the second pier incident.
City Engineer Jim Urban in April brought a bid to the city council for $76,000 as an estimate to repair the pier, but recommended that the council reject it and seek other bids.
"That's way too much to do this kind of repair," Urban said at the time.
Kovacs said the city's next step will be to once again ask for bids to repair the pier.
He said the city is working on making temporary repairs to the pier, but had no timeline on when those repairs might be finished.
In the long run, he said the city has filed a pre-application for a Texas General Land Office (GLO) grant that would help pay for a new concrete pier at or near the same location.
Kovacs said a concrete pier would be sturdier, more stable and safer for anglers. However, he said construction of a concrete pier is "two years out, at best."
Morris is still negotiating with lawyers for Atlas Maritime, of Athens, Greece, the owners of the Atlas Explorer, over damages done in March.
"It's definitely been a lesson in insurance companies' lawyers," Kovacs said. "It's been a lot more difficult than we thought it would be to get money from the folks responsible."
A proposal to start impact fees for parks and hike and bike trails, which the city council should see in August, will help with future pier maintenance, Kovacs said. Some of the money from those impact fees - if the council approves them - would go into a fund to maintain piers.
The city has three piers that front on deep water: The Charlie's Pasture pier, the J.P. Luby fishing pier at Roberts Point Park and the Ancel Brundrett Pier at the north end of Station Street.