Fishing pier a casualty of the winter weather Handicapped-access recreational site is severely damaged

January 25, 1996|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Add Project Access in Carroll County to the weather casualty list. Melting snow and a torrential downpour last week severely damaged the state's first handicapped-accessible fly-fishing pier, built last summer along Morgan Run.

Undeterred, volunteers and the state Department of Natural Resources are promising to rebuild.

"It is just a question of how soon and how difficult rebuilding will be," said Blaise Nealon, a member of the Patapsco Chapter of Trout Unlimited, which sponsored the project. "I don't see that we couldn't marshal our volunteers."

Ross Chrispman, chapter president, lent his support to any rebuilding effort and promised a "more storm-proof" pier.

The DNR also will "use whatever resources available" and rebuild the platform to withstand a 30-year flood, said John Norbeck, regional manager of the state forests and parks.

"We see this as a viable project, and we will stay behind the volunteer group to make sure it happens again," Mr. Norbeck said.

Originally constructed last summer with volunteer labor and $25,000 in donated materials, the 80-foot-long platform, with an access path and parking lot, opened in October. Since then, it has been under water several times with no problems.

"The project survived a 50-year storm earlier on," said Tom O. Gamper, an architect who created the original design. "Then the storm of the century really hammered it. You are never sure what that kind of storm will do to the water dynamic."

Mr. Nealon estimated last week that the platform was under about 8 feet of water.

"The force of the water took out all the stone inside the platform," Mr. Nealon said. "Part of the platform still looks structurally sound, but another part is hanging with nothing to hold it in place."

Some of the 250 tons of stone, mostly hand-placed to form a barrier between the stream and the platform, also washed away.

Although the rising water reached the 5-foot-wide crushed stone path between the pier and the parking lot, the path sustained only minor damage, Mr. Nealon said.

"I had such confidence in the engineering, but the storm was an act of God," said Art Nierenberg, a handicapped activist, who instigated the project with help from Trout Unlimited and the DNR.

Although the cold and snow kept him away, Mr. Nierenberg was already planning spring fishing. After The Sun ran a story on the project Jan. 1, several handicapped anglers contacted him about using the platform.

"I have been collecting flies and getting ready for a break in the weather," Mr. Nierenberg said. "I am shocked at what happened."

Mr. Gamper planned to survey and photograph the area and prepare for rebuilding.

"We have to move on, learn from this and rebuild," he said.

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