Town Meeting To Decide Snack Shack Funding

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Harwich Port , Waterways , Saquatucket Harbor

The new harbormaster's office and boardwalk decking is taking shape at Saquatucket Harbor. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Town meeting will be asked to authorize spending of the $1 million Seaport Economic Council grant awarded to the town for the landside construction project at Saquatucket Harbor, in addition to the $3 million originally approved, allowing inclusion of a snack shack in the project.

If the grant funds are approved by town meeting voters, Town Administrator Christopher Clark said that will “give the green light” to the work on May 9 so the contractors can get done what they are able to get done heading into summer.

Approval of the article will make $4 million available for the project. The article explanation states administration will only use the amount necessary to complete the site plan presented at town meeting and approved on last May's election ballot.

There has been a lot of discussion over the past several months relative to what exactly is entailed in that project, given the appropriation of $3 million approved by voters last May. The intent was to construct a new harbormaster's building, a maintenance building, a snack shack, boardwalks, artisan shacks, new septic systems as well as parking improvements on the adjacent former Downey property.

But the cost of those projects came in $800,000 more than was appropriated, and town officials began to re-assess the project. The snack shack and nearby section of boardwalk and deck were identified as not necessary. Additional cost reductions were made with the elimination of a boardwalk in the area of the six artisan shacks, and the parking lot improvements were turned over to the department of public works as a cost-saving measure.

However, Harbormaster John Rendon had applied for $1 million Seaport Economic Council grants to offset costs for both the land and waterside projects at the harbor. Both were approved, leading officials to reconsider the snack shack and other amenities included in the site plan approved by voters last May. Selectmen decided to bring those aspects of the plan back to voters in May seeking a second confirmation that this is what the community wants located at the harbor.

Voters will be asked to authorize selectmen to expend the grant funds, in addition to the appropriation under article 20 at last year's annual town meeting, for the purposes set forth in the site plan included in the prior vote, including incidental and related costs.

Clark said there have been some delays in moving ahead with the project that will impact harbor uses this summer. There were delays while value engineering was done to assist in reducing costs, and the decision to bring the use of the grant back to the voters also had an impact.

Clark said Town Engineer Robert Cafarelli met with the company that won the septic system bid, CC Construction, Inc., and an agreement has been reached for the company to install just the two holding tanks for the new septic system and to hold off on the remainder. The tanks have been installed, but the extent of the system will not be known until a decision is made on funding a snack shack.

There are three components to the bathrooms, Clark said. There are the men's and women's rooms and employee bathrooms. The bathrooms will be in place and connected to the holding tanks, which will have to be pumped on a regular basis. “But we may not have showers for the boaters this year,” he said, because of capacity issues with the holding tanks. The septic system for the maintenance garage may be delayed as well.

“I'm very impressed with the work done to date on the harbormaster's shack,” Clark said.

There will be construction on-going this summer, he added, including interior work to the harbormaster's office and at the maintenance garage, which also required some adjustments this spring, including the addition of helical piers to raise the foundation by a foot to address floodplain issues.

“Our goal is to get as much done as we can over the summer,” Clark said.

He said change orders authorizing the snack shack will be ready to go if the article gets a favorable vote. Clark said he does not think a snack shack would be constructed for this summer, but there is not much to it and it could go up quickly. He also said he did not think the artisan shacks will be put in place for this summer.

There is the potential for sections of the area to be cordoned off while construction takes place and a small section of the parking lot will not be patched where some septic work was done, Clark said, asked people to “pardon the appearance for the summer season.”

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