Options and alternatives for the imminent closure of the Outer Cove Marina were discussed with the concerned public at a meeting Tuesday night.
The Department of Lands and Natural Resources conducted the public meeting together with a representative from the Department of Public Works at the DLNR DFW Smiling Cove Marina parking lot.
According to DLNR Secretary Richard Seman, they can’t continue risking everyone with its continued use and that they will shut down the marina as soon as possible.
“We just want to make sure everything is set up on where they will go to be loading and unloading and everything is clear because it’s not going to happen overnight,” Seman said.
“Rest assured that the government will do everything in its ability to make sure that there are alternatives in how we operate,” he added.
Seman estimates around 15 to 20 companies are using the marina, some of which may have more than one boat.
Last July, one of the gangways of the Outer Cove just suddenly collapsed.
After their inspection, the Building Safety Code Division of DPW recommended to DLNR to prohibit the use of the Outer Cove structures.
“Although only one of the walkways have collapsed, it is likely that due to the state of the remaining walkways they will collapse as well given a matter of time,” acting building safety official Tom Deleon Guerrero said.
Through their ocular, non-destructive inspection of the collapsed pedestrian walkway and all remaining walkways, Deleon Guerrero said their finding is that it has failed due to the failure of the reinforcements within the cast-in-place (CIP) Double T beam.
DPW noted that it may have come from poor construction and is assumed that there was little to no maintenance.
Deleon Guerrero added that the failure was also possible through under design and possible non-consideration of rising tides.
With the big portion of the marina posing danger for use, the Smiling Cove Marina is being offered as an interim solution for the boaters to use.
The Smiling Cove, which is under the DLNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, is federally-funded through the Sport Fish Restoration Program and intended for recreational boaters and not for commercial use.
However, through communication with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DLNR said the Smiling Cove may be used as a transport docks, for loading and unloading of passengers.
DFW director Manny Pangelinan said there are just some things that need to be addressed first and that they need to give information to the granting agency.
“First we want to know how many people are going to come here and do business here,” Pangelinan said, “The sizes of the boat, the number of passengers, the time.”
Pangelinan said that those who will be using the Smiling Cove should understand that the recreational boaters get first priority but they can make arrangements and cooperate with each other.
Seman added that they are also looking forward to CPA working with them and allowing them to also utilize part of the port and that they hope delta dock will be up and running soon.
With regards to future plans for the OCM, DLNR said it is leaning on having it leased to other developers, although they haven’t announced it to the public yet.
“We’re going to have to put together a [request for proposal] and then that’s when the invitation is open. We want to do that hopefully next week,” Seman said.
He added that there are already at least three companies interested in developing the Outer Cove Marina.