In late 2007 the Town of Emerald offered the state a “free” 4.2. acre parcel for the site of the North Carolina Aquarium’s Pier at Emerald Isle partnered with the nearby Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The land currently operates as the Eastern Regional Ocean Access point and former site of the privately owned Emerald Isle pier (destroyed by hurricanes Bertha and Fran in 1996).
Recent pre-bid design estimates put the cost of this pier close to $27 million ($2 million more than the pier in Nags Head). However, after a serious reality check and subsequent scaling back, a more “fundable” $16.5 million price tag was reached.
The most significant cost savings occurred where various “green” aspects were scrapped. Unlike Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, this pier will not be powered by alternative sources including wind, solar or wave. Additionally, water reuse capabilities, geothermal wells, and LEED certification will not be perused. As Barnes put it to the Advisory Committee at a meeting on Wednesday, “traditional materials are simply more affordable”.
The State has directed that the pier remain 1,000 feet in length and be made of concrete.
While the source of $16.5 million remains unclear, Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush and Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium Director Jay Barnes indicate they’ll seek a variety of state and federal grants and private donations in addition to funds that will be available upon completion of the Jennette’s Pier project.
Design plans are expected to be completed by the end of next year.