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Naples City Council awarded Turrell, Hall & Associates a contract Wednesday to provide design and engineering services for the repair of the Naples Pier.

Turrell, Hall & Associates, which will receive just less than $1.5 million, presented a Naples Pier damage assessment to Council in December. Following that meeting, three firms submitted design proposals to the city with one firm dropping out of the bid, leaving Turrell, Hall & Associates and MHK Architecture competing for the contract.

The city in collaboration with Naples Youth Council conducted a public survey to learn what is most important to locals about the pier and what they would like to see in the future design. The survey received more than 10,000 responses.

Surveyors were asked to list the top three reasons they visit the pier, with more than 70% stating they use it for sunset viewings, around 50% for sightseeing and just less than 50% for entertaining guests. In addition, 25% listed fishing as a use for the pier.

An underwater pier wildlife camera was the top choice for what should be incorporated in the new Naples Pier design. Other popular responses included designated fishing locations and bump-out deck seating that would prevent interference with those who are walking the pier.

When asked about the most important component of the pier, the most popular answer was its unique design and historical appeal. Historical perseverance was considered when choosing the engineering firm to create a design for the landmark.

“A lot of when we started going through and evaluating these firms was who was going to be able to capture the look the historical value,” Naples’ Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities Chad Merritt said. “And that was really how we evaluated those firms and [Turrell, Hall & Associates] really stood out on that.”

Council member Ted Blankenship said reaching out to environmental groups such as Conservancy of Southwest Florida is important in finding ways to limit injuring wildlife such as pelicans. City Manager Jay Boodheshwar said these conversations have already begun.

“I had a conversation as recently as last week, with a rep from the conservancy, and promised them an opportunity to weigh in on the design and mentioned that the item before us today is simply a contract to move forward to the next phase,” Boodheshwar said. “What we’ve seen so far is conceptual, but now we’re moving into that design phase and of course we want input from everyone, but especially from the conservancy to make sure that we have a good balance between people and pelicans and other wildlife.”

Although it is difficult for locals to see the progress being made with the Naples Pier, county staff assures them that things are moving quickly behind the scenes.

“We continue to move forward even though it doesn’t seem like that because the pier is not changing And I know visually that’s what the perception is, but there is a lot of background stuff happening with this project,” Merritt said. “It’s going to continue to be the priority. We have made it a priority, we continue to make it a priority and the fact that we have a permit already in hand and we had that before the end of last year, that’s speaking volumes. We’re ahead of the game.”

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