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Minocqua's Public Pier Needs Costly Repairs Or Replacement

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Dean S. Acheson photo
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MINOCQUA – Minocqua’s public fishing pier adjacent to the Highway 51 Bridge is failing and should be extensively renovated or replaced, the Minocqua town board learned Tuesday.

Director of public works Mark Pertile showed the board photographs of a section of the pier that recently became dangerous when one of the 140 timber pilings underneath collapsed. The pilings are from the old highway bridge decades ago.

Ayres Associates, an architectural and engineering services firm, surveyed the pilings and decking two years ago. The firm’s recommendation was to replace the entire structure. Half of the pilings were in poor shape; the other half in fair condition, said representative Brian Schroeder at that time. While deck repairs to that section will make it safe again, it’s only a matter of time before other pilings of the aging structure surrender to the elements, Pertile said Tuesday. The board should consider renovation or replacement.

From the audience, former town chairman Don Gauger urged the board to immediately begin seeking out state and federal grants to offset the town’s cost to replace it. Local residents and tourists use the 300-foot long pier for fishing and to watch boats on Lake Minocqua, he said. “It’s an asset to the community, especially the children,” he said. Supervisor Bill Fried wondered if the pier would qualify as an “historic landmark,” thus boosting its qualifications for a grant of some type. Pertile said complete replacement could cost upwards of $435,000. Extensive rehabilitation of the current structure would cost about $375,000. Pertile will return at the July 2 meeting with a “complete package” of recommendations, including cost of hiring an engineering firm and grant writing assistance, grant opportunities, and a timeline of the project.

Age has also taken a toll on two pickup trucks that the public works department uses, Pertile said. A 1999 three-quarter ton truck has an electrical issue that causes the vehicle to shut off unexpectedly. Attempts by mechanics to fix the problem haven’t worked, he added. Not only is it frustrating for town workers, but also it is now a safety issue when it’s speeding down the highway. “We can’t put our people in that position (of having an unsafe vehicle),” town chairman Mark Hartzheim said. The department’s 1994 one-ton pickup truck is burning oil, but should last another year, Pertile said. Gauger said the board should not be afraid to spend money on issues such as the public pier and the pickup trucks, when they obviously need fixing or replacement. Keeping the town levy in check isn’t always the right path. “The people will understand if you tell them (the reasons),” he said. Hartzheim replied that the board has been doing just that. “We usually find a way,” he said, of fulfilling department heads’ requests.

Pertile will return with quotes for a new pickup truck at the July 2 board meeting.

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