New pier built off B Street

December 21, 2006 11:00 pm

Footprints

by Dave Gray

Now, with all the legal wrangling over, it was time to act on the new B Street fishing pier.

A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers commented that someone in Crescent City "stretched it a bit far" by torching the old Dutton wharf before the needed permits were issued. The city now needed to write a plan for the burn, including plans for debris removal and pile control to keep the harbor open to boats and ships.

On August 27, 1987, the same day that three Crescent City officials were indicted, the California Coastal Commission agreed to give Crescent City a permit to demolish the old Dutton pier. Ninety percent of the wharf surface had been destroyed by fire. The permit was for the remaining 10 percent of the wharf's surface and the pilings.

The city then had to wait for authorization from the Corps of Engineers to remove the remaining wharf surface and the pilings.

The Corps permit was received in September and arrangements were made for the California National Guard from Eureka and Crescent City to perform the demolition of the old Dutton Wharf.

In August, 1988 the City Council unanimously agreed to name the new $1.5 million pier to be built to replace the old Dutton wharf the Michael J. Scavuzzo Public Fishing Pier. It was named after Scavuzzo because of his commitment and perseverance to the redevelopment of Crescent City, especially the waterfront planning.

On Saturday September 17, 1988 members of the 579th Engineer Battalion began demolition work. Over the weekend about 200 feet of the old pier were pulled and blasted off its foundation. In all there were 25 to 30 guard members, four divers, and two blasters who participated in the works.

The work went slowly because they had to avoid disturbing the fish in the harbor. Each pier had individual charges set by National Guard divers underwater. Blasting caps had to be detonated just before each blast to scare the fish away from the charge area. The operation used 700 pounds of explosives and about 6,000 feet of cable for the charges, which were detonated from shore.

A guard bulldozer pulled about 50 feet of the pier from its mooring on the land side. All of the pilings on the sea side had to be blasted. National Guard and Del Norte County Sheriff's crews pulled the pilings to shore after they were blasted free. The pilings were attached to a winch and dragged ashore by a front-end loader, which piled them up for burning.

Because the National Guard met only one weekend a month it took three months to complete the work.

Plans for the new B Street Pier were completed and funding was raised for the construction. There was a $500,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board, a state grant for $500,000 from an offshore oil fund, and a loan to the city for $400,000.

The contract for the construction of the new pier was awarded to Art Tonkin who was out of Willow Creek, Calif. The new pier was built in the same location as the old one, but at a slightly different angle into the harbor. This was perpendicular to the sand shoal pattern and reached deeper water sooner. The causeway was also widened and paved.

Construction couldn't begin until May of 1989 because of delays in shipping the steel pilings. The pilings were epoxy coated and had to be shipped from Japan. The new pier was 720 feet long and 12 feet wide.

Ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new B Street Fishing Pier were held on October 14, 1989. Mayor Robert Seligman and Miss Del Norte, Severin De Gross did the actual ribbon cutting. Nearly 100 people turned out for the ceremony. Two weeks later the pier was officially opened to the public.