Money May Be Needed to Repair Seawall : County's Plan to Use Marina Funds Opposed

Times Staff Writer

Facing the possibility of massive seawall repairs that "would easily run into the tens of millions of dollars," the county Small Craft Harbor Commission will urge the Board of Supervisors to reject plans to use $7.9 million in marina funds to help finance countywide expenses.

In anticipation of 1987-88 budget deliberations, Chief Administrative Officer Richard B. Dixon has recommended that the board take the entire $7.9 million from the Marina Asset Replacement Fund and use it for the county's general fund.

The fund was created by the Board of Supervisors in 1981 "to protect the county's investment in Marina del Rey by assuring that adequate funds are available to replace, repair or refurbish basic public infrastructure (such as roads and sidewalks) and facilities," said Ted Reed, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

Officials Alarmed

Marina officials said they are alarmed at Dixon's recommendation, particularly because of recent findings that the 7 1/2-mile concrete seawall may need to be replaced.

Last spring, three of the 660 concrete panels in the seawall collapsed into the harbor during a rainstorm.

Reed told the commission Wednesday that the seawall damage stemmed from "the complete collapse of reinforcing steel due to corrosion."

Larry Charness, the harbor department's planning chief, said seals protecting the wall's steel footings apparently leaked, leading to corrosion of the metal pins holding the wall in place.

The county engineer has recommended that the department spend $500,000 to $600,000 for studies and core samplings to determine the extent of damage.

'Delaying the Inevitable'

But Reed said the department questions the expenditure because the studies promise "no definite results" and the county might have to replace the entire wall anyway. The staff will make a recommendation on whether to conduct further studies next month, he said.

Commissioner Herbert Strickstein said he is concerned that conducting the costly studies might simply be "delaying the inevitable."

The marina, which was built with funds including a $13-million bond issue approved by county voters in 1956, officially opened in 1965. Taxpayers' share of construction costs was $36.3 million.

According to Reed's report to the commission Wednesday, marina maintenance costs have included $200,000 in bulkhead repairs, $900,000 for replacement of the administrative dock system, $50,000 for public docks, $275,000 for road projects, $240,000 for the public launch ramp and $55,000 for the electrical utility vault.

In the near future, he said, repairs are needed on sidewalks, water systems, visitor and maintenance docks, marina beach concessions and various parking lots.

'Unusual Design'

One of the gravest concerns is the "possibility of the need to completely replace the marina's entire 7 1/2 miles of bulkheads," Reed said.

The cost "would easily run into the tens of millions of dollars," he added.

Under questioning, Charness told the commission that the county shouldn't look at how other marinas may have solved similar problems because Marina del Rey has "an unusual design."

"Let's hope it wasn't too unusual," quipped commission Chairman David Boran.

Charness said the marina's architects were limited by public budget constraints and the technology available at the time the marina was built.

Commissioners have asked the staff to draft a letter unanimously urging the Board of Supervisors not to use the $7.9-million marina fund for countywide expenditures.

The commission also will ask the board to keep $2.1 million in surplus marina revenues for marina use.

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