Pier still awaiting fixes

The owner was not ordered to finish them by any specific date.

Published October 4, 2006

REDINGTON SHORES - Four months after it was declared unsafe, the nearly 50-year-old Redington Long Pier still has not been fully repaired.

"The pier is still under court order," says the town's building official, Steve Andrews. "The town is concerned."

However, there is little the town can do since the court did not set a deadline for pier owner Tony Antonious to complete pier repairs.

Under the court order, the public is barred from certain areas of the pier where the supporting piles have deteriorated, The number of people on the pier at any one time is also limited.

Andrews said the town periodically receives complaints that the court order is being violated by the pier management.

He said the police do respond, but has found no serious violations to date.

In one recent complaint, residents charged that Antonious was "turning over" deck boards instead of replacing them.

"Does it take someone dying out there to get it fixed right?" asked Paul and Carol Nelson.

Andrews says turning over deck boards is permitted, as long as the boards are still in good shape.

Meanwhile, Antonious still says he wants to get permission to build condominiums on the beach to help defray the costs of repairing the pier.

He and his attorney met with Andrews last week and were told they would have to get both the zoning and land use designation changed.

The approval process would involve the town, the county and the state.

"It's not easy to do," says Andrews, who says the state is "very reluctant" to change existing recreation-open space to residential uses.

Antonious wants to build up to a 20-unit condo with two levels of parking - one for pier patrons and the other for condo owners.

He says he plans to submit a rezoning request to the town within a few days.

Potential safety problems at the pier first came to the attention of the town and the county last June when several pilings and cross-bracings washed up on the beach by Tropical Storm Alberto.

Concerned that the pier might be unsafe, the town immediately closed the pier to the public.

Several weeks later, Antonious reopened the pier without getting permission from the town.

Redington Shores, joined by Pinellas County, promptly sought a court injunction to reclose the pier to the public.

Instead, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Brandt C. Downey III allowed a small portion of the pier to reopen.

He later amended that order to enlarge the area that could be used by the public.

The closed areas cannot be reopened, the judge said, until repairs are made that satisfied the court that the public would be safe.

"It is obvious to me that this pier is in desperate need of repair. It's awful," Judge Downey said at the time.

Just when repairs will be made is still an open question. Antonious is not clear on that point and repeatedly says he needs the income from future condos to pay for pier repairs.