2014-02-14 / Around Town

Pier Improvement Project Commences

By Tom Shevlin

Welders dangle in a cage held by a crane, while working on a new piling at the Newport Yacht Club. (Photo by Angela Varacalli) Welders dangle in a cage held by a crane, while working on a new piling at the Newport Yacht Club. (Photo by Angela Varacalli) The crane piercing the horizon just off Perrotti Park arrived late last month and work to improve the piers surrounding the Newport Yacht Club is now officially under way.

Through the snow and cold temperatures, workers have been busy over the last two weeks replacing pilings and decking in what is estimated to be an $800,000 improvement project.

It’s the first significant pier replacement project at the cityowned property in years and its cost is being borne entirely by the club’s membership.

To be sure, the current improvements to the piers are sorely needed. In addition to facing degradation with individual planks, engineers also raised concerns over the condition and age of the pier’s piling system.

Once complete, the new piers will mimic the existing structure, except for an important addition: a new wave attenuation system that will help safeguard nearby docks and make for a calmer basin from which the club operates its youth sailing program.

By tradition a welcoming space for local and visiting mariners, the Newport Yacht Club became the source of heated debate last fall. At the time, councilors went back and forth over the status of the club’s 40-year lease agreement it has with the city.

Ultimately, City Manager Jane Howington, who began looking into the lease after a council directive last summer, determined that the overall arrangement with the club has remained true to the spirit of the original 1993 lease.

In her recommendation to the council, Howington made particular note of the upcoming improvements – which she said would have the effect of benefiting not just the club membership, but the city as well.

According to data collected by the city, in 2012 the club paid a total of $64,080 in taxes and lease installments, up from $63,059 in 2011 and nearly $20,000 more than 1999, when it accounted for $44,321 in combined revenue to the city.

More broadly, over the past 14 years, the yacht club has contributed a grand total of $796,590 to city coffers through annual lease and tax payments.

In addition, the club is responsible for the maintenance of an abutting seawall, provides special event space for city events, organizes youth sailing programs, and oversees various regattas like the trans-Atlantic OSTAR race and Bermuda 1-2.

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