MARGATE — Bob Pludo walked along the fishing pier’s walkway, and pointed to the sand below, where four-foot-deep water once splashed.

Now, it’s dry land, and the pier’s owners have secured $850,000 to extend the boards 125 feet into the ocean, said Pludo, treasurer of the Anglers Club of Absecon Island.

The 120-member group has owned the pier for 96 years, and allowed only dues-paying fishers to step foot on the boards.

“Surfers out here in the water are only waist deep,” said Pludo, motioning to the high tide below.

But where Pludo strolled Wednesday will be open to the public next year for the first time in nearly a century, the club says.

That’s because money to extend the pier is coming from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Acres program, which funds projects that protect open space and public recreational facilities.

The DEP did not respond to a request for comment.

About 300 feet of the runway and inner T will be open to visitors as a viewing area, Commissioner John Amodeo said of a soon-to-be-finalized agreement between the city and the club.

The city would maintain that portion of the pier and is considering installing benches, picnic tables and trash cans, Amodeo said.

Temporary stairs would be erected from mid-April to mid-October on the sand as a public entrance, he said.

An official agreement will be drafted by the city solicitor by next week and then must be voted on by the three commissioners in the coming months, Amodeo said. He expects it to be approved.

“People will love to take their lunch and sit out there,” Amodeo said.

Issues with fishing there began after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when sand collected underneath the boards.

Subsequent beach replenishment aimed at protecting oceanfront properties ended up covering the base of the pier in sand. At low tide, the water is only inches deep, and sinking a line impossible.

The Anglers Club is trying to raise an additional $250,000 to extend the pier an additional 175 feet, for 300 feet in total.

Jeffrey Rutizer, club president, said that will ensure the piling aren’t buried again with the next major storm or dune project.

Pludo said the group’s total revenues were about $40,000 last year and about 90% of that is spent on yearly expenses, including fixing broken boards and upkeep of the aging clubhouse. The annual membership fee is $320.

Rutizer said the club cannot afford to earmark $250,000 for a further extension. The club, he said, needs to spend frugally and put money into reserves in anticipation of natural catastrophes. When Sandy hit, he said, the club had to spend $110,000 to replace 30 destroyed piling.

The DEP-funded extension will begin in October and be completed within six months, he said.

Open houses will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. July 27 and Aug. 24 at the pier to help with fundraising efforts and attract more members.

Contact: 609-272-7258 Twitter @AvalonZoppo

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