A new pier could arrive on Lake Montgomery in Lake City after officials removed the original pier in 2017 over safety concerns, but the pathway forward involves more than just the needed funds.
At Monday’s Lake City Council meeting, Council Member Todd Sampson said the city needs to consider ongoing maintenance costs to the city. He added that the project would need other guidelines before he signed on, including a fence and gate, closing at dark and no artificial lighting.
Sampson said the city also needed to know what the maintenance cost would be and if it would all rest on the city’s budget. Adding a fence and gate would also increase the project cost.
“If it’s free, it’s still not a good deal if we’re going to have to pay to maintain it,” Sampson said.
The new, aluminum pier would cost $300,000, according to Chris Wyn, regional director at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
He spoke at a joint meeting between the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners and the Lake City Council on Jan. 31 and said kids need a place to fish—bottom line.
“We have prioritized Lake Montgomery pier as a real need,” Wyn said at the meeting.
Regular use made the pier one of the most popular fishing locations in the area with the FWC reporting 3,672 visitors in the final three months in operation—averaging 41 visitors per day—according to backup documents.
FWC would commit $150,000 of the necessary funds, an estimate from a previous FWC pier. If the county and city along with any private entities could provide the other half, Wyn said the pier could move forward.
However, the FWC does have a July 1 deadline.
At its March 3 meeting, the county commission unanimously voted to set $75,000 aside for the project.
At Monday’s city council meeting, the city decided to move forward with a special city and county meeting to discuss the project. The members discussed holding the meeting next week if possible.
The Lake City Council also set up a time for a round of video interviews to find a new city manager. The council will interview three candidates next week and, depending on the outcome, move forward with in-person interviews the first weekend in April.
A previous final candidate accepted a different offer, forcing the city to continue its search.