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Santa Monica May Get Funds to Rebuild Breakwater

A law signed Sunday by President Clinton could provide more than $4 million to rebuild the breakwater around the Santa Monica Pier, which city officials hope will create a safe harbor that would protect the flourishing boardwalk.

Clinton’s approval of the Water Resources Development Act authorizes the use of federal funds to protect shorelines and provide assistance to create economic growth along the waterfront.

The proposal is scheduled to go before a congressional appropriations committee next spring, and Santa Monica would be required to supplement the $4.22 million in federal funds with a $2.22-million contribution.

“We’re very optimistic that we’ll get funding,” said Santa Monica Mayor Paul Rosenstein, who lobbied for the project in Washington last March.

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City officials said rebuilding the broken breakwater would create a quiet harbor for boats and protection from a big storm, which could cause damages of up to $20 million.

Built in 1934, the breakwater allowed 50 to 100 fishing and pleasure boats to dock near the pier. But it eroded over time, as did the use of the pier as a recreational hot spot.

When battering winter storms swept away the breakwater in 1982, the city was already trying to find ways to revitalize the largely unused boardwalk. The storms destroyed about one-third of the wooden pier.

Now, the revitalized pier boasts a $12-million amusement park, new restaurants and an aquarium. Supporters say rebuilding the breakwater would put the finishing touches on the popular walkway.

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“It’s important that we have the ability to create marine opportunities out here with excursion boats, maybe a floating lab,” said Jan Palchikoff, executive director of the Pier Restoration Corp. “It would add vitality and another dimension to the pier.”

Construction could begin in two years on the breakwater, which will have 12 moorings and docking facilities for fishing and pleasure boats.

“It will make the sign as you approach the pier truthful,” said Rosenstein, referring to the neon letters that spell out Yacht Harbor on the entrance of the pier. “I think it’s very exciting to think about the opportunities people will have to go on fishing boats, tour boats, whale watching, sunset cruises--a whole variety of recreational activities.”


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