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Port Royal’s proposed fishing pier hits a snag

Posted on Monday, March 24, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Construction of Port Royal’s new fishing pier will have to wait until the summer.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has issued a moratorium on construction along the Rappahannock River through June to avoid disturbing the aquatic life, the Port Royal Town Council heard at its March 18 meeting.

Ironically, the King Street pier project is partly funded through a DGIF grant that was originally set to expire in May.

After councilors discussed the issue with VDGIF officials, the department agreed to extend the grant until October, Councilor Jim Heimbach said in interview. Construction of the 200-foot long pier will remain on-hold until the end of VDGIF’s moratorium.

“It just means we won’t have things as early as we were expecting,” Heimbach said.

He estimates that construction will take about a month and a half from start to finish, so anglers should be able to enjoy the new amenity in late August if no other issues arise.

In December, council members were anticipating that the pier would be finished by April. The council has contracted with Northern Neck Marine Construction to build the fishing pier and a soft launch that will allow for putting canoes and kayaks into the river. The cost will be about $55,000 for basic construction, which doesn’t include signage, electrical work and ground improvements for parking.

Aside from the VDGIF, funding for the pier and soft launch has come from several sources: Freedom to Float, National Park Service, the Baughman Family Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region, the Chesapeake Conservancy, and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Project.

Heimbach doesn’t expect this delay to affect the town’s finances, he said. “The pier is not a money producer,” he said, adding that it will be open to the public free of charge.

In other business, the council has appointed Gladys Fortune to serve the remainder of her late husband’s term.

Oliver Fortune, a longtime council member, died in January. He was most recently re-elected to council November 2012 for a two-year term.

Gladys Fortune submitted a letter to council indicating her desire to serve, and council voted to accept the nomination last week. She will be sworn in prior to council’s April meeting.

Also on the agenda for the April meeting will be a second public hearing on the boundary line adjustment between the town and Caroline County. The original hearing had occurred before the two entities had finalized a boundary line agreement. The new public hearing is scheduled for April 15 at 7 p.m., just prior to council’s regular monthly meeting.

Council authorized the services WW Webb & Associates, PLLC, to do the necessary survey work to fulfill the town’s documentation requirements for the boundary line adjustment. The cost of the work is estimated at $6,500.

Under the pending agreement, the town’s boundary will extend to approximately 500 feet west of Route 301, which will pull more businesses into the town, thereby increasing tax revenue.