FORT MORGAN, Ala. (WALA) – At Thursday morning’s Baldwin County Commission meeting, State Historic Sites Director Dr. Stephen McNair presented the plan to use about $1.7 million in county money and about $200,000 in BP money to restore and refurbish Fort Morgan ahead of the 150th anniversary celebration.
But about $1,300 of that will be put toward barricading the Fort Morgan Pier and shutting it down.
“You know we made a decision to barricade the pier because with this money, we felt that putting it into preserving the historic fabric of Fort Morgan was more important than a recreational fishing pier,” McNair said.
Back in March, the safety of the pier was brought into question when Foley resident B.J. Johnson fell off their pier and drowned. Safety concerns came up including the lack of lights and railing as well as the physical state of the pier itself.
“A structural engineering assessment was conducted and at the end of it, we decided that at this point it was questionable whether or not we should keep it open, but at the end of the day, questionable is not good enough when you have the safety of the general public in mind,” McNair said.
But everyone we talked to said they would hate to see the pier be taken out of use.
“A lot of people enjoy it as a recreational facility. In the fall when flounder are coming through here, there’ll be 30 people lined up on here fishing. They’re people down here throwing mullet nets all the time. It’s just a great recreational spot,” Phil Dortch, a Fort Morgan resident, said.
“(My) grandchildren love to crab here off the dock and I know they’re going to miss it so just hoping someway they can possibly save it cause children all love it, my wife loves it and actually I love it,” Charles Fury, Louisiana resident, said.
There may be an option for saving it right next door.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources operates the dock adjacent to the pier and the department has the option of taking over the pier and restoring it.
“It’s not that we’re opposed to people fishing. In fact, we’ve contacted the Department of Conservation to see if they would want to take over the fishing pier,” McNair said.
But until that happens or they get more money, folks will have to just enjoy these last few days on the docks while they can.