HARWICH — The reconstruction of waterside infrastructure at Saquatucket Harbor is expected to get underway this week, Harbormaster John Rendon said. Contractor BTT Marine Construction is seeking to get an early start on the project.
Rendon said the contract award identifies a start date of Oct. 16, but the company plans to mobilizing its equipment this week. His department will be trying to move boats to one section of the harbor so the company can begin demolition of finger piers and removal of pilings ahead of the planned start date.
“They're looking to get a little head start,” Rendon said.
BTT Marine Construction of East Boston was the low bidder on the reconstruction project at $6,826,852. Town meeting approved $7 million for the project, but the town has also received a $1 million state Seaport Economic Council grant to assist with funding.
The harbor department informed boat owners in the marina that all boats will have to be out of the harbor by Oct. 15. Rendon said officials have been communicating with boaters about the project for a couple of years, noting that there was a one-year postponement due to delays in permitting. The boating community has been receptive and cooperative, he added.
“We're already starting to see people hauling boats,” Rendon said. “Right after Columbus Day you'll see the boats hauled out. It's amazing how quickly the harbor will clear. Everybody's been very cooperative.”
Rendon said his department has been working with boat owners who have year-round dockage permits to provide locations for those that need to remain in the water. He said some of the commercial boats will go to the Wychmere Harbor pier, and his department will be working with Harwich Port Boat Yard to locate areas for larger moorings in inner Wychmere Harbor. Some of the smaller vessels will be relocated to Allen Harbor. Boats with year-round permits will also be allowed to be stored in the east side parking lot at not cost.
The plan is to demolish a section of the docks by Oct. 22 and bring the dredge equipment into the harbor to begin removal of an estimated 17,000 cubic yards of material, which will be taken by scow to an ocean dredge disposal site off Rhode Island.
Rendon said the dock demolition will continue while the dredging takes place on one side of the harbor. The dredge work will be conducted by Patriot Marine out of Winthrop, which will use two scows, one that can hold 700 c.y. and the other 500 c.y. of material. The window for the dredge project closes on Jan. 15.
As of Oct. 16, he said, the facility will be closed, including access to the boat ramp, and no operations will be allowed in the harbor after Oct. 15. But Rendon added that he will not stop people from driving into the parking lot to observe the progress.
“It's going to be a busy off-season here,” he said.
The plan is to have the east lot set aside for waterside activities, placement of demolished material to be trucked away and for storing new docks and pilings. A lot of the existing pilings will be used in the new construction. Rendon said if the landside construction work is approved this fall, the west parking lot will be used in association with that project. There is a lot of area in the parking lots for staging, and the Downey property could also be used, he added.
“I'm really excited to get started, everything seems to be on track,” Rendon said. “BTT Marine is anxious to get started and this is a great project, long overdue.”
As for meeting the completion date, he said: “A lot of things have to go right, the weather is always a potential obstacle, but BTT feels there is time to get it done.”