Port split over reopening Indianola dock

Before the Port of Indianola special meeting held to discuss a resolution to reopen the Indianola dock, Aug. 13, a handful of people enjoyed the warm weather at the end of the dock.                         - Kipp Robertson / Herald
Before the Port of Indianola special meeting held to discuss a resolution to reopen the Indianola dock, Aug. 13, a handful of people enjoyed the warm weather at the end of the dock.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson / Herald

INDIANOLA — A resolution to reopen the Indianola Dock was not voted on during a special Port of Indianola meeting Aug. 13, which was scheduled so commissioners could vote on that resolution and on the installation of new signs at the head of it.

The resolution to open the dock was introduced by District 1 Commissioner Jeff Henderson during the port’s regular meeting, Aug. 6. A vote on the resolution was delayed, and the special meeting scheduled, to give District 3 Commissioner Joan Wald more time to consider the resolution.

The resolution to reopen the dock was not voted on.

“Jeff had a resolution [to open the dock] … I said no; that’s the end of it,” Wald said.

The dock will remain closed to the public while the engineering assessment, and eventual work, continues. The port commissioners did not give an estimate on when the dock will reopen.

The removal of the resolution from the meeting’s agenda sparked an outcry from a full house of Indianola residents. Those in attendance continued asking why there was vote or discussion about reopening the town’s historic landmark. Just before the meeting ended the two-board commission was asked by the public to make an informal vote on whether they would reopen it: Henderson said he would, Wald will not.

Henderson wanted to reopen the dock after hearing public opinion during a recent meeting, including two opinions from people “I respect,” he said. “I think you’re overreacting,” Henderson said, quoting the two people. With July 4 and Indianola Days behind them, Henderson doesn’t see any concern with overloading the dock with foot traffic, he said.

The majority of those who spoke during the public comment period were in favor of opening the dock as well.

“It was a mistake to close it,” Indianola resident Juliana Pickrell said.

Someone is more likely to be injured by stepping through a board in the dock, rather than the dock failing due to too many people, Pickrell said. The real problem, she added, is winter weather and objects hitting the dock.

Even some who didn’t attend the meeting made their feelings heard as well.

“Open the dock,” an unidentified man yelled from Indianola Road at the start of the meeting.

Commissioners are expected to schedule Echelon Engineering next week to assess specific work that needs to be done on the dock’s pilings and connections. Echelon will then report to Coast & Harbor Engineering, which did the original assessment of the dock prior to it’s closing. The results from the assessment will be shared with the port, letting commissioners know what work needs to be done to reopen the dock.

Henderson expects work on the dock to include adding more cross bracing and strapping, which will alleviate “sway.” One of the reasons commissioners originally voted to close the dock June 27 was because a handful of people were able to make the dock sway back and forth.

In their show of support to help commissioners with the tasks at hand, a new advisory committee was formed with 15 members. The committee will be tasked with hosting fundraisers, writing grants, and helping the port prepare the dock for inspection. Sub-committees may be established in the future.Henderson said one person has applied for the vacant port commission seat, left by Judith Frank.

The work on the dock “will lead us to hopefully having a dock that is open,” Henderson said.

Immediate maintenance on the dock, which could include replacing bracing and repairing pilings, is estimated to cost between $110,000 and $240,000. Depending on how much money the port spends on dock repairs, it could cost as much as $480,000, which would include piling replacement. The figures were given during a special meeting July 23.

Shane Phillips, an engineer with Coast & Harbor, suggested during the July 23 meeting that immediate repairs to curb fears and reopen the dock should include a complete analysis and cross brace pilings. He said the port should consider putting a load restriction on the dock. Other short-term maintenance of three to seven years should include pile replacements. About 80 of the historic dock’s pilings may need to be replaced, according to Coast & Harbor.

The port is expected to vote on adding new signage at the head of the dock to keep the public off of it. The next port meeting is Sept. 10.





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