Staff photo by Allison Potter
Juan Chavarria, left, and Mark Kessler of Intercoastal Contracting pile pieces of Crystal Pier onto a front-end loader on Thursday, Sept. 20.
At 11 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 20, Intercoastal Contracting began the final phase of tearing down the easternmost 25 feet of Crystal Pier. With the adjoining cross bracing beams cut and ropes fastened around the sections removed and attached to a front-end loader on the beach, three of the historic wooden fishing pier’s sections tumbled into the Atlantic Ocean. From there, the pieces attached to the ropes were pulled ashore with the assistance of large buoys, as a small crowd of beachgoers and curious onlookers gathered on the south side of the pier.
After the largest of the pieces sat marooned in the surf line, members of the crew waded into the ocean to collect the loose pieces of debris. As soon as the loose timbers were spread along the beach strand, those hoping to save a little piece of the pier for themselves did not hesitate to pick through the piles for choice scraps.
Among the crowd standing by to watch the process, Wrightsville Beach Planning and Parks director Tony Wilson watched as the crew began the cleanup. Wilson noted that before the crew pulled the pier down with the front-end loader, they had attempted to pull the section with two boats but that the structure did not budge.
“I think that section of the pier seemed to be a little more structurally sound than we thought,” Wilson said.
Despite the resistance, the last three bays of the structure had been deemed to be in a state of collapse by the structural and marine engineering firm Andrew Consulting Engineers and a representative from Intercoastal Contracting. Now that the impaired sections of the pier are removed, Wilson said he expects Andrew Consulting Engineers to continue developing plans to restore the pier to its original length of 475 feet, which the firm was in the process of before the pier was damaged by large surf generated by Hurricane Isaac in late August.
Wilson himself also picked through the piles of pier timbers lining the beach strand south of the pier for the purpose of donating them to the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. The museum’s director, Madeline Flagler, said the museum has a few ideas about what to do with the wood so that the demolished section of the pier may live on.
“It is an important piece of Wrightsville Beach history and it was really exciting to be able to have some pieces of it and find some interesting and creative ways to use it,” Flagler said. “The discussion has been to make some items from the wood that might go in the gift shop … we are also interested in exploring the possibilities of using the wood in an exhibit to talk about the piers of North Carolina.”