CHATHAM — The long-awaited observation deck at the fish pier is starting to materialize.
Starting late last week, crews erected massive laminated timber frames on the south and east side of the packing house, which will eventually support the joists and the deck surface. Installation has included large, custom-fabricated stainless steel hangers.
The contractor, Walpole-based Sciaba Construction Corp., has employees working from 2 p.m. to 9 or 10 at night, Harbormaster Stuart Smith said, “to try to avoid at least the height of the fish unloading activities.” While the construction work at ground level around the packing house is coming to a close, that doesn’t mean there won’t continue to be conflicts between fishermen and contractors at the site, Smith said. Fish unloading activity has increased dramatically in the last few weeks, he noted.
In addition to adjusting their working hours, crews are taking precautions to avoid contaminating the fish with construction dust and debris by using special dust-collecting tools and vacuums for containment, he added.
Of key interest to fishermen is the news that the fuel system is now operational, both for gasoline and diesel fuel. That will not only be a convenience for boat owners, but will also eliminate the need for fuel trucks to visit the congested lower parking lot, Smith said.
Ground-level work is continuing near the north side of the packing house, where the new deck landing and a special outdoor elevator will be installed. Town officials have emphasized the need for the contractor to get that work done next, Smith said.
Town officials and the general contractor have been working to come up with a completion date for the $1.6 million project, which officials had hoped would be done before the start of the summer season. But now that the Fourth of July has passed, some town officials are more concerned about making sure the work is done in a way that protects visitors, fishermen and the quality of the fish they’re unloading.
In a recent meeting with the contractor, “we talked a fair amount about the health and safety of that site,” Smith said. The town has asked the contractor to provide an updated health and safety plan for the job, he noted.