By Tim Grobaty, Long Beach Press Telegram
City officials are proposing a rebuild of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier before the 2028 Olympics come to town. Long Beach August 4, 2017. Photo by Brittany Murray, Press Telegram/SCNG
One of Los Angeles’ key selling points to win the bid for the 2028 Olympic Games was the array of existing, or soon to be existing, venues throughout the area.
Already in place are the Los Memorial Coliseum, which will be hosting the games’ opening ceremonies for the third time, plus facilities at UCLA and USC, the Rose Bowl, Dodger and Angel stadiums, Staples Center, StubHub Center, the Forum and, in Long Beach, the newly refurbished arena and, to provide the viewing area for sailing competitions, the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.
The pier is problematic, and, in its current state, there’s a good chance it won’t be around for the international event 11 years down the road.
Instead, the city is looking into the feasibility of either a thorough rehabilitation of the 1967 structure or, more likely, the construction of a new pier in time for it to serve as the viewing site for one of the Summer Olympic’s most photogenic events.
“There’s no question that the pier needs major work right now,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in an interview Thursday. “It’s in massive need of repair. It’s underutilized, and we’re going to come up with a plan to make it a great showcase for the city.”
In addition to the expected wear that comes from the elements, the pier sustained serious damage during the recent winter storms, including one on Feb. 17, which caused the Aqualink water taxi dock and the lower mooring dock to become detached and wash up onto the beach, where they were declared a total loss. The pier was closed for two weeks for repair.
Concrete, too, has cracked and broken in several places and recently the wings jutting out from the end of the pier had to be closed for repair work.
“Even if the Olympics weren’t coming, it was something we were going to have to start looking at,” said Garcia. “But the sailing event being held here in Long Beach gives us a little push. We’re going to need to have a serious conversation during the course of next year about whether we’re going to repair it or rebuild it to make the pier become one of the great things in our community.”
A few years ago the city conducted a preliminary look at the pier; the conclusion was it’s nearing the end of its useful life, said Assistant City Manager Tom Modica.
“So we have already been discussing the options of whether to repair or rebuild the pier,” Modica said. “It’s most likely we will rebuild it, because it would probably cost about the same as repairing it.”
Modica said a rough estimate for the cost of a new pier would be $25 million to $35 million.
Already on the books is $200,000 in Tidelands funds set aside for a feasibility study, which Modica says will be getting started in the next year. He added the city will also be talking to the L.A. Olympics officials to see if there is any available money to use for a new pier.
The current Belmont Pier is itself a replacement for the Grand Avenue Pier, sometimes called the Belmont Heights Pier or the Devil’s Gate Pier. That structure, which opened to the public on Christmas Eve in 1915, extended 975 feet out to sea from 39th Place, just a few yards west of the Belmont Pier. It was renovated in 1951 and extended by 300 feet, but it succumbed after half a century of saltwater, storms and other ravages of nature and was replaced by the 1,620-foot-long Belmont Pier, which opened on Feb. 19, 1967 — even as construction was underway on another project spurred by the Olympics at a nearby site: The Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, which opened in August the following year.
Contact Tim Grobaty at 562-714-2116, firstname.lastname@example.org, @grobaty on Twitter.