VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – A popular Sarasota County attraction may have to be rebuilt because of Hurricane Irma. The Venice Fishing Pier sustained heavy damage from the storm’s winds, and is now closed because it’s too dangerous to walk on.
It’s unclear when it could be reopened.
Visitors to beautiful Venice Beach can find plenty of picturesque views, which unfortunately now include a view of caution tape blocking off the Venice Fishing Pier.
Officials say thanks to Hurricane Irma’s winds, the railings are degraded, a large number of boards need to be replaced and the end of the pier is unstable.
“We want to make sure they’re not on an unsafe structure, although it’s a difficult thing to do with such a popular attraction,” said Venice City Engineer Kathleen Weeden.
Many tourists and locals come to the beach solely for the pier.
“This is really disappointing to see. I was expecting to be out there to catch a snook or two, but not from here [on the shore],” said Bob Cullen, visiting from Delaware.
“[My friend] told me that this would be lined up with fishermen and unfortunately it’s closed,” said Curtis Clark, visiting from Port St. Lucie.
Officials say the cement pylons should be stable and they may be able to temporarily open a portion of the pier soon.
But, the whole decking will likely have to be replaced, costing around $675,000.
This pier is a huge tourist draw and also drives customers to a popular eatery, Sharky’s On The Pier, so locals are worried about the economic impact.
“It’s gonna affect them and their business and that’s the fear that I have,” said frequent visitor Fred Vickery. “I hope the business goes back and….that people come here anyway and enjoy the beach.”
Some people are making the most of the situation.
“I moved down [to the beach,] I’m still catching fish, just different rods, different lures, different tackle,” said resident T.R. Larsen.
In the coming days, contractors are going to see if they can reopen the pier up to the bait shack.
Bidding for rebuilding the pier would likely take place in December, and it would be a few months before it is rebuilt.
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