In the autumn of 2009, the City of Daytona took full control of the 84-year-old Dayton Main Street Pier by buying out the leaseholder for a record $1.3 million.
It seemed like a good move, even though contractors estimated that the pier – which had been allowed to languish until almost dilapidated – would cost another $1.6 million to restore to usability, with about $100,000 of that amount devoted solely to removing both interior and exterior paint, all of which contained asbestos.
The 745-foot-long wooden structure, containing a 300-capacity restaurant, four bars, and a casino, has acquired the status of a landmark, if not the historic designation. Built in 1900, then destroyed in a storm and rebuilt in 1925, it was originally 1,000 feet long – the longest structure on the east coast.
Now the Victorian-style relic, graced by pictures of its history in every venue from restaurant to bar, will be opening in late summer rather than February as formerly hoped (which was the date given before anyone knew about the asbestos-laden paint).
In spite of the asbestos finding, city officials remain optimistic that no more unwanted surprises will delay the late summer opening, though as Dayton Support Services Director J. Paul Wetzel has observed, “…you never know what you’ll find.”
The city is actively soliciting asbestos remediation firms, who will get their first look at the pier sometime early in February. The winning bidder will likely be chosen by city commissioners at their first meeting in March, according to Wetzel.
After that, the asbestos renovation is expected to take a month and a half to two months, after which additional necessary upgrades will take the project well into summer. Full renovation, including tearing down the old space needle ride, could take several years, but will not delay the opening.
Businesses along the boardwalk, like Joe Bonacci’s Pizza King, are suffering from lower revenues as a result of the asbestos discovery, though some tourists – who come to the area for other attractions, like the Daytona 500 and the NASA Space Center – admit the closed pier is just a minor inconvenience.
In fact, the renovations are excellent news for the thousands of vacationers who plan to visit the pier in the future, either as the highlight of a vacation or as part of a larger package. The asbestos removed in the next six to eight weeks means visitors will not risk contracting mesothelioma, a fairly rare but highly lethal form of cancer of mesothelial tissues surrounding the lungs, heart, and abdominal organs.
Mesothelioma, which kills an estimated 2,500 Americans a year, is a stealthy form of cancer that lies dormant for decades before producing symptoms severe enough to force sufferers to seek a doctor’s help.
Unfortunately, by the time symptoms are that severe, the cancer is so well advanced, occupying so much vital tissue, that most doctors are forced to deliver a prognosis of about a year to live.
Many doctors will nonetheless treat mesothelioma with an aggressive regimen of surgery and/or radiation and/or chemotherapy, but the procedures are largely palliative rather than curative, reducing the size of tumors and relieving pain (and improving breathing) rather than extending lifetimes to any great extent.
In fact, the real hope for mesothelioma is earlier diagnoses, which may be provided by a new test of protein markers found in the pleural fluid associated with mesothelioma of the lungs – markers which may deliver highly accurate diagnoses much earlier in the disease than is currently possible.
Sources: The Daytona Beach News-Journal, WFTV, DaytonaBeachPier.com