$200K gift enables replacement of Rehoboth fishing pier

Commissioners, Village Improvement Association figuring out details to keep project moving forward
April 5, 2024

Story Location:
Children’s Fishing Pier
Lake Gerar
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Rehoboth Beach commissioners are on board with replacing the Children’s Fishing Pier on Lake Gerar, but because of budget and viewshed concerns, they don’t have much of an appetite to expand the pier beyond what already exists.

The Village Improvement Association built the pier after the Storm of ‘62 using large pieces of timber left in the storm’s wake. Replacement of the pier was first discussed by commissioners, VIA President Kate McKenzie and Bob Palmer, Beacon Engineering senior engineer, during a workshop in early December.

The discussion primarily served as a temperature-taking mission by the VIA and Palmer to see if the commissioners would be amenable to the project. McKenzie said an anonymous donor who had grown up using the pier had approached the VIA about a donation to fix it. At the time, a specific donation amount, construction costs and whether the city would be expected to contribute anything beyond future maintenance were unknown. Commissioners expressed interest in continuing down that path, but they needed more details.

McKenzie and Palmer were back before the commissioners during a workshop March 4. Palmer said the anonymous donor has said they’re willing to put $200,000 toward construction and $50,000 in an escrow account for future maintenance.

Palmer presented commissioners with a multi-option replacement. It would cost $200,000 to replace the existing pier. The plan would be to situate it farther from the bridge so the pier can be fished from all sides. Adding a gazebo to the pier would be an additional $50,000. Adding a pier extension off the gazebo would be an additional $175,000. Palmer said the cost of the extension is closer to $100,000, but if that option is not approved and it is added later, there would be additional mobilization costs.

The deck area of the existing pier is about 900 square feet, while the area of the base-bid pier would be about 1,200 square feet, said Palmer. As proposed, any version of the new pier would come from the shoreline in the same location as the existing pier, he said, adding it would also be constructed with composite material because it would last longer than wood.

The existing fishing pier has a historic marker from the state at its entrance. In an effort to keep the pier's historic roots, McKenzie said there are thoughts of trying to salvage a few pieces of the old fishing pier to incorporate them into the new one.

Commissioners were on board with the basic bid design, but still had concerns about the city getting stuck with additional costs in the future.

Commissioner Toni Sharp asked if the city was already committed for any costs.

Palmer said the city had agreed to pay for design-related costs, estimating that amount to be about $40,000.

Sharp said she wasn’t aware the commissioners had agreed to fund the design, but generally recognized the cost as the practical application of doing business.

Mayor Stan Mills described the donation as generous and exciting, but any extra money from the city is probably not in the budget. He said he’s not in favor of the pier having a roofed structure, like a gazebo.

Commissioner Patrick Gossett said he would like to have more information on how the escrow account will be handled.

Ultimately, a consensus was reached for Interim City Manager Evan Miller to continue to work with the VIA and Palmer on moving the project forward, so long as the city doesn’t contribute any money toward construction costs. No timetable was set for when the project would come back to the commissioners for an update.


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