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Harborfront Park pier

The pier at Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson needs repairs, according to a report by an engineering firm. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Kevin Redding

The pier in Harborfront Park will remain open, with restrictions, through the summer.

The Port Jefferson Village board of trustees decided during a public board meeting July 17 to hold off on several significant repairs to the pier until after Sept. 16. On that day, the annual Dragon Boat Race Festival sponsored by the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce is set to take place. The 2016 version of the event prompted a field assessment of the pier last fall following reports of the 337-foot-long by 12-feet-wide timber structure “shifting” and “swaying” while packed with people waiting to board boats and compete in the event.

Mayor Margot Garant said during the July 17 village board meeting that while Port Jefferson’s Seven Seas Construction, Co., could potentially begin work on the pier in two weeks, she could not “in good conscience” allow the pier to be closed to the public during its prime season for use.

“I’d hate to have my pier closed for two months in the summertime,” Garant said, estimating the repairs will now take place during the fall or winter.     

According to the evaluation reports of the Bohemia-based engineering firm P.W. Grosser Consulting Inc., the group commissioned by the village in Oct. 2016 to assess the pier, there was “severe section loss” to pilings or columns driven into the sediment that serve as a foundation for the platform; a missing nut and washer for one beam-to-piling connection; rusted connections between pieces of wood; and a split in at least one cross-bracing beam.

The pier, which was originally built in 1996, was last modified in 2004, according to the firm’s report.

All findings were referred to as “significant structural deficiencies” and it was advised they be addressed immediately. During an Oct. 20, 2016, meeting, Village Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said he was in favor of doing just that.

“They’ve called the village’s attention to a couple of issues [with the pier], I think that if we ignored it, it would not be good,” D’Abramo said.

P.W. Grosser at that time also recommended the enforcement of a maximum occupancy of 180 people for the pier, which was estimated to hold up to 200 during last year’s festival.

At the recent meeting, Garant said the occupancy restriction will be implemented for this year’s event.

“During the Dragon Boat Race there would be absolutely no more than 150 people at a time on that pier,” Garant said. She added that the pier would no longer be open to spectators, only race participants.

When asked how members of P.W. Grosser felt about the delay in repairs, Senior Vice President Paul Boyce said he was unable to speak on the matter until getting the village’s consent. The village board did not respond to requests to interview Boyce nor inquiries as to how it plans to fund the eventual repairs.

The October report stated the “overall structural condition of the pier was considered good to fair.

Alex Petroski contributed reporting