2013-03-21 / Front Page

Conanicut Marine eyes expansion at East Ferry

Marina also wins bid to restore woodpile pier
By Margo Sullivan

Conanicut Marine Services is planning an expansion, Bill Munger told the Harbor Commission at its March 13 meeting. Details are still to be decided.

The changes are coming because the marina’s wave attenuator, an electronic device that protects boats during storms, was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and it will have to be replaced. The cost is significant, said Munger, and financing it will require growth.

The marina expansion will also overlap some existing moorings, he said. Munger promised to work with any private mooring holders who are affected. He will help relocate them on one of the marina’s commercial moorings.

“Most of the overlap is on Conanicut’s moorings,” he said.

Because of a federal Army Corps permit, Munger said the moorings could be swapped out within the marina’s waters.

Munger said after the meeting he does not yet know how many more slips are going to be built. He is considering four possible site plans and expects to choose one by the summer. He anticipates work will start in spring 2014.

“Each concept offers various numbers of boating access, but all of the concepts remain in Conanicut’s riparian areas,” he said. “Two of the concepts accommodate the numbers of boats currently within our 64-boat permit. I expect I will be going with one of those. And, yes, all of the concepts accommodate access for a greater number of transient and touch-and-go boaters.”

Munger said the long-term plan had been to replace the wave screen, but Hurricane Sandy “accelerated the program.” He added the old attenuator was a weak solution that required continual maintenance.

Munger described the device as a 16-foot-wide by 205-long floating dock placed on the east side of the marina. It sits 18 inches out of the water and extends 7 feet below the surface.

“I am proposing a replacement that is more robust and designed to provide greater protection from northeast, east and southeast winds to the boats behind it,” he said.

In other business, Police Chief Ed Mello reported that Conanicut Marine has won the bid to repair the East Ferry woodpile pier that was damaged in the hurricane.

The Town Council on March 7 took the recommendation of Town Engineer Michael Gray and awarded the job to CMS for up to $71,242.

Gray said the town received seven bids, ranging from $54,830 to $164,210. The lowest bid was withdrawn due to an error in pricing.

In a March 1 memo to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, Gray said that the scope of the work includes repairs to “cross bracing, stringers, decking, electrical pedestals and the boat pump-out pedestals and wiring.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the town for 75 percent of the total repair costs. The Public Works Department has also contributed labor and materials to repair some decking on top of the pier, and Gray said those expenses are eligible for FEMA reimbursement. According to Mello, the work is to start immediately.

Mello said the hurricane repairs on the Fort Getty pier would be paid though insurance.

At a special budget meeting preceding the regular meeting, the Harbor Commission approved the fiscal year 2014 capital budget for $83,000. The commissioners also adopted the $226,000 operating budget. It is essentially in the same form that it was when it was approved earlier at a special Jan. 28 budget meeting.

The one caveat focused on $1,500 for mooring stickers. Commissioner Larry Eichler questioned the figure and said the commissioners had removed the item from the operating budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. Because the harbor office now uses a computer to update information about delinquent payments, there was no longer any point in using stickers and requiring the harbormaster to conduct visual inspections.

However, Mello, the Harbor Department’s executive director who prepared the budget, disagreed and said he wanted more time to decide if the stickers should be phased out. The commissioners discussed the issue at a Feb. 13 meeting, which Eichler did not attend. At that time, Mello said the stickers would show whether the permit had been renewed and should be continued. After the commissioners agreed with his assessment, Mello put the item back into the operating budget.

However, Harbormaster Sam Paterson said the long-term plan had always been to eliminate the stickers. After discussion, the panel accepted Commissioner Patrick Bolger’s suggestion that the budget could stay as Mello had presented it, but on the understanding the $1,500 would not be spent. The stipulation was that Mello will not order stickers without obtaining advance authorization from the harbor board.

In other business, Mello agreed to speak to Cardi Construction and Gray about making repairs to the boat ramp at East Ferry. Resident Don Richardson said the ramp has a hump that causes problems for low-hung trailers. He has asked Gray about fixing it.

Bolger said Cardi did plan to make some repairs to the ramp as part of the seawall project. Mello said Cardi had agreed to the ramp work because part of the ramp was excavated during the seawall repairs.

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