Almost five months since Hurricane Ian destroyed the historic Naples Pier, city of Naples is moving toward a plan to redesign and rebuild the popular attraction. And city officials are seeking input from the community on the new pier.
Engineering consultants Turrell, Hall & Associates presented a reconstruction cost estimate in December to Naples City Council and recommended an entire rebuild, which could cost up to $8 million. Council determined a rebuild was a better option than restoring any existing pilings and only reconstructing what is necessary.
Since then, the city has been working to begin the rebuilding process. An invitation to bid went last month for consultants interested in designing the new pier and a request for vendors closed Feb. 8. Having received three applicants, staff is tasked with reviewing contractor applications and determining which should be recommended to Council.
Upon a recommendation from council member Ted Blankenship, Naples Youth Council, a group of local teens who provide input on city initiatives from a youth perspective, created a Naples Pier redesign survey.“We felt that was a good partnership and good opportunity for Youth Council to be able to stand up in front of you and show you what kind of information they put together,” Naples Parks, Recreation and Facilities Director Chad Merritt said. “We’ll also take the feedback that we get from the surveys and we’ll provide it to whoever the design consultant is. And that’ll help them with some things to consider as they go through the design process.”
The nine-question survey is aimed at both locals and tourists. Questions include what kind of public events would attract respondents to the pier or what prevents them from visiting the pier as much as they’d like.
Merritt and the Naples Community Services Advisory Board agreed concession design must be addressed in the survey. A concessionaire was approved for when the pier reopens, but how the concession area is to be designed is still unclear, Merritt said.
“I do think this question [about concession use] in particular is good because it lets us know how important it is when we put an emphasis on the design of actual concessions,” he said. “If we’ve got a ton of people who are utilizing that, we [can] make it where it’s a little more user-friendly, safe for them to eat, etc.”
The survey will be made available to the public upon approval from the city manager. It is anticipated to be accessible on the city’s website, mailed to residents and potentially posted at the entrance of the pier as a QR code to be scanned with a phone. Youth Council will also be visiting local seventh graders at school to encourage younger audiences to partake.
“We really want to hear from the city of Naples residents. We want to hear what they’re looking for. Even though there’s a lot of visitors, this is kind of [the locals’] place of comfort and this is the place that they went as soon as it was torn out,” Merritt said. “That’s one of the first things that we heard, is how long is it going to be before we rebuild the pier, and it was from our locals.”