City of Capitola reviews plans to rebuild, enhance storm-damaged wharf

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Tuesday, August 1, 2023
City of Capitola reviews plans to enhance storm-damaged wharf
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In Santa Cruz County, the path to recovery is well underway in the City of Capitola to both rebuild and enhance the wharf.

CAPITOLA, Calif. (KGO) -- In Santa Cruz County, the path to recovery is well underway in the City of Capitola. High surf and storms nearly destroyed the city's iconic wharf and damaged nearby businesses earlier this year.

Now, plans are being made to both rebuild and enhance the wharf.

"Capitola Wharf is not only the city's, but it's our county, it's the region, it's unique to have a beautiful wharf in your city," said Chloe Woodmansee, assistant to Capitola's city manager, "It means everything to everyone here."

The extreme damage done in Capitola and other parts of Santa Cruz County prompted a visit by President Joe Biden.

Since then, the businesses along the hard hit Esplanade have reopened, and beach tourists have returned but the wharf remains closed.

City officials say they're working constantly for it to make a big return.

VIDEO: Storm damage: Here's before-and-after look at hardest-hit areas in Capitola, Santa Cruz

"A new project called the Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project is underway," Woodmansee said.

Since 2017, a resiliency project has been underway to make the wharf's structure stronger. But the enhancement project hopes to take things a few steps further.

"That project really focuses on what goes on our wharf to make it sparkle," Woodmansee said.

The city council planned to review and approve preliminary plans Thursday.

The enhancement project has been spearheaded by community leaders, fundraising for it under the name, Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project or CWEP.

Locals have already weighed in and continue to share their thoughts on what they would like to see.

MORE: Nearly all Capitola Village businesses reopen after storms despite no help from government

"It has to have the charm of the current pier," Diane Castle a Capitola resident said, "But maybe with more to do, more attractions."

The city says some additions the wharf could see under the enhancement project include a fish cleaning station, shower for beachgoers and more learning opportunities for kids.

"We're looking at keeping the really iconic Spanish-style to the work with maybe adding a little bit more color, some maybe opportunities for local art," Woodmansee said, "Bringing in that colorful tile that's seen on our sea wall and kind of within the city at large to just kind of have it more cohesive."

Overall, those who call Capitola home, are just eager for their beloved wharf to return better than before.

"I just feel that people will, rise to this and really utilize it in a way they never did before with great appreciation," Capitola resident Cathy Robinson said.

The resiliency and enhancement projects are hoped to be completed by Summer of 2024.

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