REDINGTON SHORES — Pinellas County and the state are preparing to sue to have the historic Redington Long Pier torn down, Assistant County Attorney Brendan Mackesey recently told the Pinellas County Historical Commission.
Mackesey gave few details, but said there have been ongoing safety issues with the pier, which has been closed to the public.
A staff report recommends the county initiate litigation against JERMC Ltd., headed by longtime pier owner Tony Antonious.
The report summary states:
"In 2006, Pinellas County obtained an injunction against JERMC Ltd. to secure the pier and prohibit any public access to the pier unless and until the pier was properly repaired. Although remaining closed to the public, the pier has continued to fall into a state of disrepair such as to become a hazard to public safety for those who may be recreating below it."
JERMC has been given an opportunity to bring the pier into compliance but has not done so. Since needed repairs have not been done in the 12 years since the injunction was obtained, the only alternative left appears to be the removal of the pier, the summary says.
The state is included in the legal action since the pier extends into the state waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Tearing down the Redington Long Pier would take away the last remaining wooden fishing pier from an era that saw a number of such attractions jutting into the Gulf up and down the Pinellas coastline. In the 1950s and '60s, Indian Rocks Beach alone was home to eight public and private piers. The Redington pier was built in 1962.
The fate of the Redington Long Pier has been an emotionally charged subject for residents of Redington Shores and nearby communities. In June, a number of residents packed Town Hall wanting to save the pier. They were reacting to an email from the pier's owner that was circulating, asking citizens to sign an online petition urging town officials to change the zoning on the property fronting the pier to allow for condos or hotel development.
At that time, the pier's owner, Tony Antonius contended he was unable to finance the major structural repairs needed to the pier. Building condominiums or other housing would provide the income needed, he said.
All of those who spoke at the meeting wanted to save the pier, but many commented on the pier's current state and the lack of repairs or maintenance.