Turtle study delays Ladner pier repairs
By Dwayne Bremer
Mar 11, 2014, 17:17
The Garfield Ladner Pier at Waveland was heavily damaged by Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Repairs were delayed last year after FEMA failed to approve a contract, and are being delayed now by a study to see how construction will affect Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.
City officials in Waveland initially hoped that repairs to the Garfield Ladner Pier could be completed rather quickly, however, a new turtle study has slowed the process to a crawl.
Mayor David Garcia said Tuesday that the city was recently informed that it needed to complete a study regarding the impact the project will have on Kemp's Ridley turtles.
NOAA requested the study be conducted earlier this year and apparently, FEMA will not issue funding for the repair project until the study is done, Garcia said.
"This turtle study has put our entire reimbursement process on hold," Garcia said. "It is not just our pier, but FEMA is requiring it for all of the piers on the Gulf Coast."
In December, the city selected Compton Engineering to begin the process of repairing the pier.
The pier sustained about $900,000 in damage during Hurricane Isaac in 2012, officials said.
The city then took bids and awarded a contract for pier repairs, but no work was ever started because FEMA did not approve funding within the required 90 days, officials said.
Last week, Ward One Alderman Lili Stahler suggested the city should repair the pier with its own money or take out a loan until reimbursements come in.
Last year, city leaders announced that the city had compiled $600,000 in reserve funds; however, most of that money would be used for drainage and road projects.
"The residents of Waveland want their pier," Stahler said Tuesday. "My concern is, if we award a contract again and FEMA does nothing, then we are back to square one. Even if FEMA does not pay for it, it would be worth it to repair the pier.
“This is the second summer now that there is no pier. Nobody is talking about drainage. The biggest question I get is about the pier."
Garcia said that borrowing the money or using existing funds are not a viable option at this time.
In an attempt to speed things up, MEMA Director Robert Latham recently drafted a letter to FEMA asking it to consider the effects further delays will have on Coastal communities.
"Recovery is more than repairing damages and rebuilding and can only be achieved when a community's economy recovers and is sustained," Latham wrote. "It is unconscionable that local units of government should suffer significant revenue loss due to lengthy review processes when repair/restoration on some projects involves only replacing boards and planks."
Garcia said the city is working "as fast as it can" to get the turtle study complete, after which, hopefully, things will begin to move faster.