HARWICH — The town received several competitive bids for the Saquatucket Harbor marine side reconstruction project expected to begin in October. Two of the base bids were within the $7 million appropriation approved in the May for the project.
There were seven bids filed with base bids ranging from $6.8 to $9.1 million. There were three alternates also provided in the bid package. The low bidder was BTT Marine Construction, LLC of East Boston at $6,826,852, followed by Robert B. Our Company of Harwich with a $6,997,770 base bid.
Harbormaster John Rendon said the bids were within the project estimate provided by consultant Bourne Engineering.
With the three alternates, the bids totaled $7,187,902 for BTT Marine Construction and $7,212,470 for Robert B. Our Company, a $24,568 difference. The alternate bids were for 2,100 cubic yards of additional dredging, the use of tropical hardwood instead of yellow pine on the finger floats, and a new de-icing system.
Along with the $7 million approved by town meeting, the town more than a year ago was awarded a $1 million state Seaport Economic Council grant for the project. Although the project was delayed a year, Rendon said the Seaport Economic Council funds are still in place.
Low bidder BTT Marine Construction has done various waterfront projects for over 15 years, its website states. Rendon said BTT Marine Construction did the reconstruction project at Old Mill Boatyard for the town of Chatham in 2016. The project involved replacement of the existing bulkhead and installation of concrete floats. Rendon said Chatham Harbormaster Stu Smith was very pleased with the work on that project, which also received a $1 million Seaport Council grant.
Robert B. Our Company, the local firm, has worked on a couple of harbor projects for the town over the past several years, including the Wychmere Harbor dock project and the bulkhead and parking lot reconstruction at Allen Harbor.
Given the closeness of the two bids, Rendon said “obviously we're going to do a review of all the bids to make sure whoever does it is qualified.”
Rendon said the decision to issue the contract rests with the board of selectmen. He said he would be providing recommendations on which alternates to include in the project, but ultimately it's the decision of the board.
The base bid calls for removal of 15,000 cubic yards of dredge material and the first alternates seeks removal of an additional 2,100 c.y. Rendon said while the docks are removed from the harbor and the basin is clear it is the ideal time to dredge as much of the harbor as possible. BTT Marine bid $210,000 on alternate one and Our Company bid $98,700.
Tropical hardwood, alternative two, is a much more durable product than the yellow pine now used on the float system and would serve the town better in the long term. BTT Marine bid $75,000 and Our bid $59,000 to use that material.
Rendon said the third alternative, the de-icing unit, is not critical in his mind. There is a bubbler system in place in the marina now and it is a portable system. He also pointed out with the commercial fleet active in the winter months, ice doesn't often build up. BTT Marine bid $76,050 for the de-icing system and Our Company bid $57,000. With the three alternatives there is only $24,568 separating the two lowest bidders.
After a meeting with Town Administrator Christopher Clark and the town engineer, Rendon said he was planning to recommend that selectmen accept the low base bid submitted by BTT Marine. Instead of exercising any of the alternatives, he would recommend a change order be issued to the winning bidder to allow an additional $100,000 worth of dredging, approximately 1,000 c.y. This would keep the project below the $7 million mark and allow $70,000 for a contingency, he said.
“I don't think I have any discretion but to keep this project under the $7 million mark,” Clark said.
Clark said he thinks it's critical to get some additional dredging done in the harbor while it is clear of docks and floats, because that opportunity won't come again for another 50 years.
The town has received good news from the Army Corps of Engineers on what was an outstanding 408 permit. Rendon said the permit was approved and signed, allowing dock expansion into a section of the harbor designated as a federal anchorage. Inaction on the issuance of the permit held up the project for a year. There were also delays in issuing the dredging offshore disposal permit, but that's also now in place, he said.
All the town needs now is the overall ACOE permit and a state Chapter 91 permit to be issued, which are sitting on Gov. Charles Baker's desk. Once signed, Rendon said, the state permit will be forwarded to the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management agency for federal consistency approval and then all permits should be in place.
The plan is to have all vessels out of the harbor by Oct. 15 and the marina construction project underway the following day. The goal is to have the project completed by Memorial Day.
The town was also scheduled on Wednesday to open bids on the landside construction project, which includes a new harbormaster's office, a snack shack, boardwalk, ticket and artisan shacks and a greenway leading to additional parking on the former Downey property. A harbor department maintenance building will also be constructed there.
Conservation Administrator Amy Usowski reported some bad news for that project: the state's Coastal Zone Management Office notified the town that it did not received a $500,000 Coastal Resilience Program grant for the project. The town did get a $187,500 Coastal Resilience Grant for the design phase, Rendon said.
With landside and marina based construction taking place beginning this fall, the harbor department staff is expected to relocate to offices in the Harwich Middle School in September.