Pier Park Pier – Bait, Tackle Shop and Cafe Coming this Summer

Last summer our white sand beaches were blessed with a new pier.  The Russell Fields Pier was returned to us after a few years of damaged use.  The pier was open just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations, but it wasn’t done.  There was still something missing.

The arrival experience was still broken.  We had a beautiful pier, but in order to get to it, we had to walk around a chain link fence and crushed rock paths.  Well folks, that was all temporary AND necessary for us to enjoy the finished product that will open at the beginning of summer this year.

Continue reading “Pier Park Pier – Bait, Tackle Shop and Cafe Coming this Summer”

PCB City Pier Update – Boardwalk a comin'!

 Most of the new City Pier on Panama city beach is up and running. But I’ve been noticing as I’ve wandered about Pier Park that there is some construction happening at the foot of the City Pier. So today the weather was a bit warmer I took a stroll just to see what was going on. What follows are some of the photos I took.
Continue reading “PCB City Pier Update – Boardwalk a comin'!”

New Pier Big Time Successful, Amenities Under Construction

Every since the new Dan Russell Pier opened at the beginning of July in Panama City Beach, anglers and spectators alike have flocked down the double fly-away plank path to the end to enjoy being 1500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.  Under construction for a little more than 12 months, the City Pier (as it is known to some) cost around $8 million and was funded by a FEMA grant that was awarded after it was irreparably damaged during a hurricane a few years ago.

Hit the read more link for pictures and video of the ongoing construction and numbers on how many people have been on the pier.

Continue reading “New Pier Big Time Successful, Amenities Under Construction”

New Pier's Open, Fireworks set to go off tonight!

Having been under construction for the better part of 18 months, the new City Pier, Russell-Fields Pier is open for business.  The new 1,500 foot pier, located right across from Pier Park opened at first light yesterday to a line of fisher-persons ready to catch anything from Bonita to King Mackeral to sharks. One onlooker said they spotted a 6 footer lurking around the pilings waiting for a stray crippled fish to gobble up.

I won’t go into too many details on the pier, as we’ve covered that, but I will say that it is long, very awesome, and super great to have it back.  I promise, I won’t neglect you new pier, I promise I’ll visit you often!

If you want to fish, the cost is $6 per person, but if you just want to walk out, the cost is $2 with kids 6 and under getting in for free.  The pier is open today, but will close sometime right after sunset for the fireworks display.

I was out there yesterday and they were getting all the fireworks set up, arranging the firing tubes in neat rowes.  “The layout is perfect and the setup is just right,” said “Yankee” Scot Fischer, one of the “technicians” setting up the array of explosives.  He was commenting on the rows of “blow-out” panels that are unique to this particular design of the pier.  They seemed to be the perfect width.  I’ll have more pictures next week of the setup as I’ll be back out there today.

VIDEO: PCB Gets A Main Attraction Back Better Than Ever

Right about now all Panama City Beach residents should shout, “Finally!” then collectively sigh. By the 4th of July, Panama City Beach will have the long-awaited Dan Russell Pier re-construction completed, its platform opened, designed to be light-years better and safer than its predecessor.

For those who don’t know much about the new city pier, here is a quick recap: The 8 million dollar structure (the cost for both the county and city piers) was funded by Fema after the previous pier was severely damaged in a hurricane. Designed by Baskerville Donovan, the city pier will extend out over the gulf a lengthy 1500 feet, 29 feet longer than the old pier. The pier stands 8 feet higher than its predecessor and wider at 17 feet. A super-structure, the pier is built to withstand hurricanes of all kinds. Six hundred pound bolted blowout panels line the platform that, when met with storm surge and winds, relieve the pressure on the structure by releasing the panels to safely drift onshore to later be reset. The previous structure also had a T shape at its head. Baskerville Donovan designed the new pier with a much larger head shaped in a rectangle. The rectangular area has a dual purpose of form and function as it accommodates more gazers and fishermen while providing additional protection during storm surge. What may be surprising to some, the pier is turtle friendly. Track lighting embedded into the stone frame, runs down the pier from end to end, eliminating the need for canopy lighting.

Along the Front Beach Road, the pier’s best asset won’t be open until the spring. At nearly 300 feet wide, a boardwalk will be added that could make the pier, coupled with Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s new downtown area. This boardwalk, conformed to potential new form-based design regulations will make room for a ticket booth, a 62ft wide restaurant, a tackle and bait store, public bathrooms and a large outdoor area with umbrella seating for those seeking stellar views. This area will, most likely, wear the same beachy-guise as Pier Park seeming to extend the popular mall to the shore.

Parking for the new pier will line along the roadside and additional overflow parking will be across the street just west of Pier Park’s entrance. Costs will be $6.00 for entrance for fishing and $2.00 for individuals. Senior citizens, military and disabled will receive 50% discounts. Year long passes will be sold for $180.00.

The pier reopening will be heralded by a stunning 4th of July fireworks display, the perfect kickoff to welcoming back a pier that’s been sorely missed.

County to Charge for Access to New Pier

_mg_0735_2Since apparently I’m all about people having to pay more for stuff, you would think that I would agree with Bay County deciding to charge the same fee as Panama City Beach did (and will in the future) for using the pier – and you would actually be correct.  However, not at first.

I’ll be frank, the only real objection I have to paying a fee at a place like this is because I’m not usually carrying cash.  I don’t remember if they accepted credit cards, but who likes to charge a dollar anyway.  Plus, who wants to pay $6 just to take the wife and kids out to the end of the pier for 10 minutes on the remote chance that we’ll actually see a fish that is radical enough to entertain the kids.  I mean, seriously, $6 for something that I’ve already paid for through being a tax-payer?

_mg_0732_2But, the reality of the situation is that the tax dollars that I’ve put towards (or actually will put towards in the future as I’m sure this was financed through bonds) our new pier(s) is actually going to the construction, not the upkeep.  An article in the paper this morning quoted Mike Thomas as stating that Bay County has never run a pier, they just built M.B. Miller Pier and let it run down.  This brings up an interesting point.

_mg_0763_2Why did I never go to the county pier years ago even though there is tons of space and could be a perfect place for families to hang what with all the setting areas, boardwalks and wide open spaces?   *pause*  Because it was scary.  That’s right, I said it – SCARY.  With the fees, the county would be able to pay for running operating expenses, such as security and pay staff to be onsite.  Now, I know what some of you are thinking – Eliminate the fees and  pay for the running costs with other county fees, just reallocate, adjust budgets in other categories or fire a couple unneeded people.  I know, I know, sounds like a great idea, but you know that the county doesn’t work that way, in fact what municipality does?  You can’t expect government to pay for something NOT directly associated with it.

_mg_0766_2So, with that said, knowing that the money can’t come from anywhere else, I totally agree with the usage fee.  I want both piers to be on an equal playing field and I want to be able to use either one safely.  Do I like paying the fee?  Not really, but it isn’t because I’m always broke, its more of just an inconvenience, but I’ll find a few bucks if I want to go to the pier, as long as there will be tons of other people there enjoying it with their families and not a bunch of punk drunks.

The twin county and city piers, dubbed M.B. Miller and Dan Russell, respectively will be identical, measuring 1.500 feet long.  The cost is a little more than they style pier that was there before, but they are designed to sustain damage in a more efficient way in order to minimize the cost of repair in the future.

The fees for access to the pier are $5 per adult fisherman, $2 per child fisherman and $1 if you just want to watch.

City Pier on Schedule

Good news! Construction of the City Pier at Pier Park (also known as the Dan Russell Pier) is on schedule. According to Sheryl Woodcock, with the public works department, the pier is 60% complete.

This is great news for everyone. The pier is beloved by locals because it is a great spot to cast a line and catch cobia, flounder, red fish, pompano, king mackerel (and more), and it is a great tourist attraction. The surrounding Aaron Bessant Park is one of the few areas on Front Beach Road with ample public parking and public access to the beach.

The pier is expected to open to the public in June of 2009.

The concrete pier is the longest pier along the Gulf of Mexico. Businesses at Pier Park will surely benefit from day visitors to the pier, as will area restaurants.