Harbormaster Office Demolition Begins Saquatucket Landside Improvements

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Waterways

Harbormaster John Rendon and executive assistant Michelle Morris were working to set up the temporary harbormaster's office at the Harwich Cultural Center on Sisson Road on Monday. The office at Saquatucket Harbor is scheduled to be demolished soon as part of a landside redevelopment project there. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — The harbormaster's staff has been busy relocating this week in preparation for demolition of the frail building that has served the department for more than 40 years at the head of Saquatucket Harbor.

Harbormaster John Rendon said this week the plan is for the old building to be demolished, likely on Dec. 18, to make way for landside improvements there and on the former Downey property. A construction kick-off meeting was held on Thursday with the architectural firm Brown Lindquist Fenuccio and Raber, Inc., and Eastward Companies of Chatham, the low bidder on the construction project.

“They're going to start right away,” Rendon said. “The notice to proceed was issued last Monday.”

A cleanup crew will come in next week to address asbestos tile issues. The following Monday the tentative schedule is to demolish the harbormaster's office and then begin working on the new foundation.

The harbor department staff and Natural Resources Director Heinz Proft are relocating to the first floor of the Harwich Cultural Center in the former middle school on Sisson Road. Rendon said the move was likely to occur on Tuesday, but he added it could be a couple of days before telephones are installed.

Anyone with any boating, harbormaster or natural resources issues will have to go to the cultural center, Rendon said. The new offices are just inside the north front entrance on the right side of the building facing the parking lot. The temporary offices are the first door on the right inside the building. The department's website will be updated to provide the information to the public. The staff will be operating out of the former middle school right up until the beginning of the next boating season, Rendon said.

The plan is to begin work on the new harbormaster's office in January. Once the exterior is done, the interior work will wait until after the boardwalk and the garage/maintenance facility on the former Downey property are completed. Some of the department's staff will operate temporarily out of the garage/maintenance facility at the start of the boating season, Rendon said.

The plan is to have the restrooms/showers facilities in the harbormaster's office done in time for the boating season, with the boardwalk and the maintenance facility expected to be completed by Memorial Day.

“The budget's tight and we're doing all we can to stay in budget,” Rendon said.

He hoped for good news on a couple of grants the town has sought. Both the $1 million Seaport Economic Council grant and a $250,000 Americans with Disabilities Act grant are expected to be acted upon in January.

On Monday night Town Administrator Christopher Clark said the town's department of public works will assist with construction of the parking facilities on the former Downey property side of the project. The DPW contribution of time, labor and materials is designed to keep the budget in line with the appropriation. Fill for the project with be contributed by the DPW. The project cost for T-base, asphalt and porous pavement in environmentally sensitive areas is expected to be $95,000, which cuts into a limited contingency fund for the project. Grants could help with that, Clark said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill questioned the planned use of stone dust along access ways, instead of boardwalks, suggesting it may not be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. But Rendon and Saquatucket Harbor Development Committee Chairman Matt Hart, also chairman of the accessibility rights committee, said they confirmed its use would be compliant.

Selectmen on Monday also awarded a $239,000 contract for the new septic system for the harbor facilities to CC Construction, Inc. The system will not provide for a once proposed restaurant at the harbor, but will have a pump system from the new garage/maintenance facility to the new septic system to be located in the west parking lot at the harbor.

On Monday night selectmen also granted a waiver on the filing and permitting fees for the project. However, on the recommendation of Building Commissioner Raymond Chesley, the electrical, plumbing and gas permit fees were not waived. The policy adopted by selectmen in 1995 allows for the filing and permitting fees to be waived, but not those requiring a payment to the utility inspectors.