2008-05-01 / Front Page

Improvements considered for East Ferry structure

By Sam Bari

The Harbor Management Commission Facilities Committee held a special meeting of all stakeholders last Thursday to discuss the improvement projects at the East Ferry marina.

Attending the meeting were the facilities committee, a representative from the RT Engineering Group, Town Council liaison Julio DiGiando, and William Munger, the town marina leaseholder.

Steve Otten, project engineer from the RT Engineering Group of Providence contracted to engineer the East Ferry projects, presented a draft of the proposed improvements to the steel pier.

The plans included new railings extending 60-feet from shore, new conduits, and electric lines and equipment, as well as aluminum ladders and cleats. Munger suggested blocks to protect the ladders from possible damage, as well as additional cleats. The committee agreed and discussed a few other minor adjustments to the plans, like the type of cleats that would be used.

After the discussion, a motion was made to accept the plans with revisions. The motion passed unanimously. The budget for the project is $170,000 plus a 15-percent contingency.

The panel discussed the construction schedule and agreed that beginning by Aug. 1 or earlier would be best to complete the eight-week project before fall. Otten said the project would be sent out for bids as soon as possible, and if a bid was approved in May, the August date could be met. Results of the bid will be presented to the Town Council for approval.

Otten gave some recommendations for repair of the townowned woodpile pier. He said the first 18 vertical piles and braces showed varied signs of deterioration. "The internal cores were all but gone from three of the piles and they would have to be replaced," he added.

He also said that cracks in the decking needed to be addressed and some of the planks should be replaced. He also recommended replacing the cross bracing and diagonals that were missing and in poor condition. Otten said the deck supported 42-pounds per square foot and should support 60 pounds. He said specifically that three vertical piles, three stringers, 42 bottom braces and 31 top braces required replacing. Scheduling the repairs in the next two years would be acceptable, he said.

Specs for the bid will be presented at the next regular meeting of the Harbor Commission.

The addition of a touch and go dock as well as the use of the woodpile pier was discussed at length. Because of limited resources, the commissioners voted to leave the pier at status quo until funds are available. However, use of the pier was another matter that needed to be made clear.

Town Council Liaison Julio DiGiando, who is also the Town Council president, reminded those present that the Town Council had approved reserving 40-feet on both the north and south side of the pier as well as an additional 80-feet on the north side for transient boating. This means the reserved section for transient boaters cannot be leased as seasonal dock space.

After the meeting, Facilities Committee Chairman Robert Bowen said that the U.S. Department of the Interior financed 167-feet of the pier for the purpose of transient, recreational boating and fishing. Consequently, that much of the pier had to be reserved for those purposes. The remainder of the pier has been leased, with priority going to commercial boating. If commercial interests do not require space, then the space can be used for recreational leases.

Bowen emphasized that the docks were not being cleared to turn the last 40-feet into a fishing pier. Although fishing is allowed, the number of people using the dock for that purpose will be restricted. He said that fishing is allowed in between boats that are tied up at the dock, but boats always have priority and people who are fishing will not be permitted to interfere with the ability of boaters to use the dock space.

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