From the July 4, 2012 edition.
The new and improved Trinidad Pier is now open to the public.
Most of the work on the $7.4 million project is nearly complete, with construction crews finishing up only a few minor details.
The Trinidad Rancheria, which purchased the pier and harbor facilities in 2001, began working on the project back in 2006 and had to go through a lengthy, complicated permitting process. Actual construction began last September,
The impetus for reconstructing the pier was twofold. The old pier, built in 1946, had structural deficiencies. The creosote-treated Douglas fir pilings that held up the pier were rotting. During stormy weather, visitors to the pier could feel it slightly rise and fall with the swells. Wooden planks were constantly being replaced. The railing was falling apart,
More importantly, there were water quality concerns, heightened by Trinidad Harbor’s designation as an “Area of Special Biological Significance” by the California Water Resources Control Board. There were worries that the creosote in the pilings holding up the pier were leaching into the kelp beds, where rivers otters, seabirds and a variety aquatic life dwell.
The new pier – which is about the same size as the old one – solves that problem.
The old pilings were removed and replaced with 24-inch diameter, 3/4-inch thick steel pilings coated with a non-reactive polymer. Instead of a surface made up of thick wooden boards, the new pier has an impervious concrete deck that is gently sloped so all the rainwater runoff can be collected and treated without going into the bay. Any oils or other fluids that might leak from vehicles on the pier won’t end up polluting the bay.
Rainwater that falls on the pier drains to the east side and enters a pipe, which then drains to a land-based filtration system. That means zero pollution from pier runoff.
Not only is the new pier eco-groovy, it’s also built like a tank.
“We can drive an 80,000 pound semi truck on this,” said Trinidad Rancheria CEO Jacque Hostler.
When it’s crab season, semi trucks can pull directly onto the pier.
And when a crowd gathers on the pier each November for the annual Blessing of the Fleet, there won’t be any nervous chatter about the pier moving up and down.
The new pier features lights on both sides which automatically turn on and illuminate the pier at night. The old pier only had a few lights at the far end for the fishermen.
At the end of the pier there are four new hoists to lift crab totes and gear from fishing boats. There’s also a new weigh master shed at the end.
A new aluminum gangway ramp, built to boat ramp standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, leads down to the floating dock, which is heavily used during the salmon season.
The Trinidad Rancheria recently increased the mooring and boat launching fees for the harbor, which triggered some customers to write letters complaining of the increase. (One letter was printed in the June 20 edition of the McKinleyville Press.)
The annual mooring permits were raised from $500 to $600. The boat launch fee went up from $30 to $35.
Hostler explained that fees go directly to the operating costs of running the harbor. None of the money goes to pay for the pier project, which was financed with state, federal and local grants, along with Trinidad Rancheria transportation money.
During crabbing season, running the harbor requires from eight to 12 employees, sometimes more.
“This business is very labor intensive,” Hostler said.
The rate increases were necessary so that the harbor can maintain staffing levels and try to at least break even financially, she said.
Making the pier
Now that the pier project is nearly complete, the Rancheria would like to make it more of a destination for tourists and the community.
Hostler said that the Rancheria would like to see the pier used for kayak rentals, eco-tours, fishing contests and all sorts of other activities. Perhaps, she said, there could be art festivals on the pier, or even concerts.
The nearby Seascape Restaurant, which is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. will soon get a new paint job. Adjacent landscaping will also be replaced and upgraded as the Trinidad Rancheria continues to improve the 6-acre harbor site, which also has a bait shop, new public restrooms, and a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility.