Local News

Critics say pier a symbol of misplaced priorities in tough economy

Posted June 30, 2009

— Built in 1939, Jennette's Pier in Nags Head is the oldest fishing pier on North Carolina's Outer Banks – weathering dozens of storms and hurricanes, until September 2003.

That's when Hurricane Isabel pummeled the platform, knocking off more than 500 feet as the storm battered the coast.

Slain teen's grandmother speaks out Critics say pier a symbol of misplaced priorities

Earlier this year, state lawmakers unanimously approved a $25 million replacement, and in May, Gov. Bev Perdue attended the groundbreaking, touting the economic and educational value of a new structure for the North Carolina Aquarium.

Weeks later, the pier is getting pummeled all over again, as North Carolina faces one of its worst economic recessions, a budget shortfall of more than $4 billion and severe budget cuts to state services, such as health and human services and education.

Months ago, every lawmaker – Republican and Democrat – supported the project. Now, critics single out the pier as a symbol of misplaced priorities in bad budget times.

The Association for Home Care and Hospice of North Carolina has put out advertisements attacking one of the pier's backers, Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin, who voted to cut personal home-care services.

"Sen. Berger has proposed cutting our program, and I think we wanted to show some of the mismatched priorities and let people judge for themselves," said Tim Rogers, executive vice president for the association, a trade group that represents the interests of such organizations.

Berger claims the group is trying to divert attention away from rampant Medicaid fraud in home care.

Teachers groups have also cited the pier as a source of frustration, as educators face pay cuts and possible layoffs.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Tuesday that it was a mistake to vote for the pier. He now wants to change that.

"A lot of things that may have looked like a good thing a month ago, two months ago or a year ago, may not be such a good idea now," he said.

Those who still stand by the pier argue that it has unfairly labeled as waste.

"It's not coming from the general fund. It's coming from receipts from the sea aquariums," said Sen. A.B. Swindell, D-Nash. "This is an extension of the sea aquariums, and it's going to be a wonderful facility."

For now, though, the pier is political fodder in the heated debate over budget priorities.

Reversing the pier vote appears highly unlikely. The project is moving forward, and supporters argue it will prove to be a vital economic resource on the coast.

34 Comments

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  • retired and luv it Jul 6, 9:36 a.m.

    An expensive aquarium and an unbalanced budget? Paved bicycle paths in Manteo and I can t get the dirt road I have lived on for 62 years paved or even maintained. Guess it is who you are and not about the need--right Mr Basnight??

  • retired and luv it Jul 2, 8:58 a.m.

    Just another example of the "Good Ole Boy's and Girl's Club" on Jones street kissing up to Marc Basnight with our tax money. As long as he says pay you and I will continue to do so without regard to a budget except one that benefits his priorities. TERM LIMITS PEOPLE

  • jbyrd Jul 1, 6:30 p.m.

    If they really want to help preserve our saltwater resources then use the money for more NCDMF enforcement officers. Several of our most important recreational and commercial species are listed as overfished or of concern and virtually no one is watching the hen house. There are more officers in a small town than DMF officers on our entire coast and they are responsible for everything from cut bait to monitoring the fish houses and road side stands.

    Oh and someone mentioned the 64 freeway to Basnight's resturaunt. Well it just happens to be a stones throw from the pier.

  • blueskyenc Jul 1, 6:11 p.m.

    "Why must people lie because there is something/someone they hate?"

    Read the story here: http://hamptonroads.com/node/510324. It states clearly that the pier is being built with state grants (where do grants come from - your taxes!), the Clean Water Trust Fund, and aquarium receipts.

    See also the N&O story back in April: http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/story/1490509.html.

    Who is lying now?

  • alx Jul 1, 6:02 p.m.

    No money for teachers but plenty to pay off Bassnight

  • rsellars1 Jul 1, 5:41 p.m.

    They need to worry about paying teachers before they worry about what money that the aquarium "might" bring in.

  • Just the facts mam Jul 1, 4:57 p.m.

    "the group is trying to divert attention away from rampant Medicaid fraud in home care."

    What - rampant fraud in government health care? Who would have thunk? Also, I like how the liberals are saying the cuts in spending are now cutting at the bone so they need to raise taxes - meanwhile there is a lot of waste and fraud in Medicaid (as mentioned), and waste as far as spending money on this pier, and for the residents of NC paying tuition for out-of- state athletes to attend college at in-state rates, and for taxpayers subsidizing politicians lunches at their cafeteria. These are reasons why I do not want taxes raised - get rid of the waste and fraud first and then we can talk...

  • pka826 Jul 1, 4:32 p.m.

    at least building the pier will help the local economy and create temporary jobs, unlike most of the federal stimulus plan

  • Even Jul 1, 4:23 p.m.

    I'm for education and preserving nature but this has nothing to do with either one. It's just a waste of state money when the state cannot balance a budget. Do it later when the state is flush with money or use the same funds for education now.

  • Bendal1 Jul 1, 3:44 p.m.

    The pier funding isn't coming from the general budget, it's coming from Aquarium profits. I don't see a problem with this; now, the beach community that wanted money from the General Fund to replenish their beach, that I have a problem with.

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