ST. PETE BEACH — City commissioners took an initial step July 9 toward reconstruction of the deteriorating Pass-A-Grille seawall and two adjacent fishing piers.

As part of a consent agenda, commissioners appropriated $76,653 for a preliminary design study that will eventually lead to reconstruction of the seawall and piers. The study will be undertaken as part of a continuing engineering service agreement by the city’s consultant, Cardno.

While the cost of reconstruction has yet to be determined, the consultant and city will research grant opportunities to fund a portion of the project, Public Works Director Mike Clarke said.

The problem was initially discovered during the reconstruction of Pass-a-Grille Way from First Avenue to 19th Avenue, when soil beneath the sidewalk adjacent to the seawall was found to be eroding away, Clarke said.

“This erosion prompted a ground-penetrating radar study to evaluate the extent of the subsidence. The results of this study uncovered a substantial number of voids beneath the edge of the sidewalk immediately adjacent to the seawall,” he said.

Following that discovery, the city requested that its consultant recommend designs to address the existing damaged and deteriorating seawall.

“The alternatives will be evaluated for cost of construction, constructability and serviceability; the selected design concept will be utilized under a future task order to develop full construction drawings and specifications for bidding,” Clarke added.

The scope of work includes inspection and evaluation of the seawall and two fishing piers located adjacent to Pass-a-Grille Way. The study will include topside inspection of the seawall, along with topside and underwater inspection of the fishing piers. The fishing piers along the wall, located at 8th and 11th avenues, will be evaluated, with the findings and repair recommendations provided to city commissioners.

This scope of work does not include Merry Pier, Clarke noted.

As part of the project the consultant is required to undertake an aquatic habitat assessment of the site to determine the required permits based on the chosen repair-or-replace alternatives for the seawall.

“The habitat assessment will cover the ecological conditions within the project limits to identify any natural or man-made terrestrial and aquatic resources. This review will include the use of an in-water survey to identify locations of specific interest, such as obvious vegetation, shoals, and wildlife,” Clarke said. “The review will observe and record the presence of aquatic resources including sea grasses and other submerged aquatic vegetation.”

The project will be discussed at future commission meetings as it proceeds through the review and approval process.

Longer operation hours approved for Art Mart

In another item approved on the July 9 consent agenda, commissioners amended the city’s contract with Suntan Art Center to allow its weekend Art Mart to operate two hours longer, with the potential of trying late afternoon or evening shows.

In January, the commission approved a two-hour extension to the original Art Mart contract that permitted the show to go on at the Pass-A-Grille Patio, 900 Gulf Way, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., but only from January to April.

According to city Recreation Director Jennifer McMahon, Suntan officials recently asked permission to have the option to extend the hours any time throughout the year.

McMahon said Suntan is also seeking the ability to try an evening market in place of the day market with approval from Parks and Recreation.

Commissioners amended the agreement to permit Art Mart to operate weekends from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and past the 4 p.m. deadline with approval from Parks and Recreation.