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Cayucos Pier reopening is cause for celebration

The Cayucos Pier reconstruction is near completion, with opening scheduled for Saturday. From left, Mark Schwind, Scott St. Clair (partially hidden), James Ottens, Steve Haugen and Graham Miguel discuss work on the structure last week.
The Cayucos Pier reconstruction is near completion, with opening scheduled for Saturday. From left, Mark Schwind, Scott St. Clair (partially hidden), James Ottens, Steve Haugen and Graham Miguel discuss work on the structure last week. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

After more than two years of waiting, watching, wondering and hoping, Cayucos will celebrate the reopening of its historic pier on Halloween with a community party — the culmination of a massive public fundraising and county planning effort to restore the deteriorated structure that was built in the 1800s.

The San Luis Obispo County-owned pier is a focal point for the Cayucos community — the place where couples take romantic walks, nature lovers gather to observe bird and whale migrations, and spectators get perhaps the best view of the annual Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day.

Since July 2013, the pier has been closed due to concerns about its condition and safety. The pier had missing or deteriorating piles, and degraded beams and cross bracing. But thanks to a massive rebuilding effort costing about $3.5 million, coordinated by the county, the pier has been virtually reconstructed.

222Number of new piles installed at the Cayucos Pier

982Length of the pier in feet

$3.5 million Cost of the pier’s rebuilding effort

1872 Year the Cayucos Pier was built

“It was a total rebuild,” said Steve Hennigh, owner of nearby Good Clean Fun Surf and Sport shop in Cayucos. “The engineering involved was just amazing.”

Hennigh said several community groups came together through an impassioned fundraising effort titled, “Save the Pier,” that collected $750,000, about half of which will go toward an endowment to help maintain the pier into the future.

Hennigh said the 982-foot pier is a vital part of Cayucos’ history and image, dating to 1872 when it was built by Capt. James Cass, the founder of Cayucos. Over the years, rough surf and storm conditions contributed to damage. The community didn’t want to see it abandoned.

“When they closed the pier down, I was a little worried,” Hennigh said. “We became very proactive and helped to raise that $750,000, which is significantly more than was needed from donation money. It brought a lot of service groups together. This is a big, iconic piece of the town.”

The celebration will include a noon ribbon-cutting, food vendors, live music starting at 1 p.m. with Green to White playing as the opening act. Headliner Makana, a slack-key guitarist, will perform at 3 p.m. Makana’s music was used in the soundtrack of the George Clooney film “The Descendants” and he has performed at the White House.

The pier features 222 new piles, a wider deck by about 6 feet and decorative lighting.

Greg Bettencourt, a Cayucos community member who helped with the fundraising, said that he and his wife walk the beach on a weekly basis. The reopened pier will be a welcome addition to their strolls.

“We like to take a short walk before going to bed and go out there probably two or three nights per week,” Bettencourt said. “It’s really just a part of life in Cayucos.”

IF YOU GO

Cayucos Pier reopening celebration starts at noon Saturday

Cayucos Beach Concerts will present music from 1 to 5 p.m. with Grammy-award winner Makana performing at 3 p.m.

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