Saquatucket Landside Costs Still An Outstanding Issue

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Waterways

Saquatucket Harbor.  FILE PHOTO

HARWICH — The landside Saquatucket Harbor renovation costs could be an outstanding issue with some members of the board of selectmen as the town looks toward going out to bid for elements of the project next month.

The latest estimate for the project prepared by Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects, Inc., Harbormaster John Rendon stated in a memo to selectmen, is $3,637,171. That number caught the eye of Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill, who a couple of weeks ago, noted that town meeting and ballot question votes authorized only $3 million for this project.

Citing that funding cap, MacAskill said he wanted an updated presentation on the landside project. Rendon has prepared the memo explaining the present status of the project and Town Administrator Christopher Clark told selectmen Monday night a presentation before the board would be made at the July 10 meeting.

MacAskill on Monday night said he has read Rendon's memo and it has provided him no “clarity whatsoever”and he has more questions based on that memo.

In that memo, Rendon pointed out the latest projected estimate is an increase from the one provided, $2,988,922, after steps were taken to scale down the initial project, which was estimated at more than $5 million.

The $2,988,922 estimate was based on 50 percent complete design plans, the memo states.

“According to BLF&R (architectural firm) the increase in the building costs are due in large part to mechanical, electrical and plumbing system costs. The initial schematic design allowances for these systems provided by the estimator were low compared to the actual engineered systems.

“Also there was a significant increase for the maintenance building foundation work due to poor soils found during geotechnical soil borings,” the memo states. “The total project cost includes the add alternate (seasonal snack shack) estimated at $319,914 and a 10 percent contingency totaling $330,652.”

Rendon said the project construction contract bidding will be done through three contracts and bid separately. Contract one will include construction of all buildings, boardwalks, ramps, walkways and landscaping. There will also be an add alternate for the snack shack.

The second contract will be prepared for bid by Town Engineer Robert Cafarelli and includes site work for both the Saquatucket marina landside property and the former Downey property. The town engineer will also prepare the bid documents for the third contract, for the new septic system. Moran Engineering Associates, LLC, has been contracted by the town to design the new septic system for the marina landside complex.

In his memo, Rendon stresses that harbor revenues from rental/lease receipts and proceeds from the sale of the Bank Street harbormaster garage will be used to reduce the principal or annual bond payment.

The harbormaster also pointed out they have applied for two grants that could help fund the project. One is a $1 million grant from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council and the other is a $500,000 Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management coastal resilience grant.

“We are hopeful that the town will receive some level of grant funding to help further offset the cost to the Harwich taxpayers and/or provide the town with the capability to fund the entire project as proposed and supported by the town should the bids come in higher than the initial $3, million estimate,” Rendon stated.

The harbormaster said this project is the result of two years of public outreach, public input, and systematic coordination and planning among town department heads and administration. This is an exciting long-term project that will contribute greatly to the character, appeal and economy of the town, he said.

“There have been some questions and uncertainty related to the cost estimates of the project, yet we have worked hard to maintain the needed and desired elements of the project, while staying within range of the initial $3 million estimate. It is my hope that we can complete the full scope of the project as was voted on by town meeting.”

The plan is to release the contract bid for the building, boardwalks and landscaping on July 12; the septic system contract in August; and the site work in January 2018.