by Linda Charlton

Go back seven years and the City of Clermont had a brand new pier, floating dock and boardwalk on the west end of Lake Minneola, on the ‘lake’ side of Hiawatha Preserve. Signage let the public know this was a good place to launch kayaks —- and presumably to launch other small human-powered vessels. Locals could go out and fish on the pier, or just enjoy the view. Boaters could pull in temporarily to use the public restrooms conveniently located just yards away. Then Hurricane Irma came (September 2017) and the dock was substantially damaged. Only the gangplank, currently in storage, was deemed reusable.






Now, three and a half years later, everything is in order, funding is secured, and construction on the replacement pier has begun. City communications director Kathryn Deen reports that construction is expected to be completed by the end of June, and that “all members of the public are welcome to utilize the pier.”

Clermont resident Steve Franklin is one member of the local boating community who is quite pleased with what he is seeing.

“I think it’s great,” he says. “Before we lost the pier, it was in regular use. If you look at the shape of the lake, it’s kind of a cove and the west side of the lake is going to be for paddle sports … the separation of boat traffic for safety reasons. Whatever the city can do to separate the traffic will be good.”

Franklin is referring to a basic fact-of-life for the paddle sport set: that the bigger, faster, more powerful motorized boats can easily cause them major headaches.

Total projected cost for the replacement pier and associated boardwalks is  $298,297.50, according to Deen. Of that $100,736.68 is from FEMA, and $93,480 is from Mitigation Services (insurance settlement).

“Working with FEMA and Mitigation Services to secure funding began after Hurricane Irma,” Deen says. “Permitting, the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuing/awaiting additional funding held up the project.”

In terms of size (plans give a length of 271.5 feet)  the new pier is comparable in size to the one it is replacing. In terms of construction, it is comparable to the floating dock system at the Clermont boat ramp. The biggest difference between the replacement pier and the original is with the pilings. The new pilings are 12-inch square concrete posts. The old ones were timber and about half the size. The old pilings were “driven to refusal,” the new ones driven “either to a refusal of 4,000 lbs. and/or 20 feet of depth,” according to Deen.

In laymen’s terms, the new pilings are going down six to seven times further than the old pilings, and it will take something as lot stronger than a Hurricane Irma to dislodge them. As of Thursday, four of the new pilings are in place, and half of the old pilings have been removed.

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