CHATHAM — Bids have been opened from contractors hoping to build the new observation deck at the fish pier, and for town officials, it was like an early holiday gift.
The low bid for the job, which includes the replacement of aging fuel tanks, is $1.48 million, about $400,000 less than expected. With a conservative contingency fund, the total project cost is expected to be $1,628,540. The winning bidder is Walpole-based Sciaba Construction Corp.
There were nine bidders for the job, “which was really remarkable,” Natural Resources Director Robert Duncanson said. With the construction sector as active as it is, the town was fortunate to have so many bids on the job, he noted. The base bids, less the fuel tank work, ranged in price from $1.07 million to $2.3 million, and given that discrepancy, town officials verified the details with Sciaba Construction, which said it was standing by its low bid.
The existing observation deck, which receives thousands of visitors each year, is badly deteriorated and poses a safety risk. The new deck will not be attached to the packing house building, and will have more space for sightseers, and a new emergency exit stairway on the south side. To be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the walkway will also be outfitted with an outdoor elevator that is designed to be weather-resistant.
Building the new deck necessitated the relocation of fuel lines, Duncanson said, and with that work taking place, officials said it makes sense to replace the 25-year-old underground fuel tanks, which are at the end of their useful life. The tank replacement adds about $385,000 to the project.
The town has already reserved about $521,000 in the capital budget for some of the work, with the remaining $1.1 million coming from the waterfront capital bond authorization passed by voters last year.
Duncanson said the contract is likely to take effect in early January, with all work to be done by May 15, to reduce conflicts with commercial fishermen and visitors using the facility. In fact, the job completion could be delayed as late as June 15 without causing serious disruptions, but “that way we have a little bit of flexibility,” he said.