East Harwich Sewer Costs A Concern To Selectmen

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Wastewater treatment

Wastewater planning

HARWICH — Town officials opened the second round of bids for the East Harwich sewer project last Thursday and after bids in the first round came in high, they were a little relieved with what they received in the second round.

Selectmen also voted not to call a special town meeting this fall to reaffirm a regional wastewater partnership with Dennis and Yarmouth, even if legislation establishing the partnership is approved. Board members said they have not yet done enough to educate the public about the proposal.

The Robert B. Our Company was the low bidder in the first round of the East Harwich sewer project and has begun wastewater system installation. Bids for the first of the three anticipated phases of installation in East Harwich came in high, about $2.8 million over the estimated cost. That left about $6.23 million in funds available for the second phase of the contract.

With that understanding, the town and its consultant CDM Smith, Inc. wrote specifications for work under a base bid, and then provided four alternatives for contractors to bid on. The town received three bids for the second round, with RJV Construction Co. of Canton submitting the low bid with a base of $5,336,304. With the addition of the four alternatives the total bid was $6,621,306.

The Our company was the second lowest bidder with a base bid of $5,924,019 and a bid package of $7,497,623. The third bidder, Revoli Construction Co. had a base bid of $5,966,485 and a bid package of $7,643,461.

CDM Smith said has worked with CJV Construction Co. in the past, said project engineer Mike Guidice. Selectmen will make the ultimate decision on the issuance of the contract. Guidice said overall he thought the bids were “pretty much what we expected.”

Town Administrator Christopher Clark said with the CJV bid, the town would be able to do the base construction and the first two alternatives in the specifications. The base bid specifications will provide sewers for Church Street at Queen Anne Road to just past Bay Road; Cemetery Road from Route 137 to Church Street; and all of Nor’east and Sou’west drives.

Alternative one includes Bay Road west from Church Street and a section of Williamsburg Avenue to the 90-degree turn in the road. Alternative two includes the rest of Williamsburg and all of Fredericksburg Avenue. The third and fourth alternatives, Harden Lane and Chickadee Lane, might have to be put off until a third phase bid occurs.

Clark said there may be a little leeway in funding the shared pump station and piping project with the town of Chatham that will be installed along Queen Anne Road. He said the Chatham bid came in lower than anticipated.

There was some anticipation Harwich would call a special town meeting this fall to affirm the regional wastewater treatment compact and operating agreement between Dennis, Harwich and Yarmouth. The special legislation creating the DHY Clean Water Community Partnership was approved a week ago by the state house of representatives. The approval came a few weeks sooner than anticipated. The legislation requires that all three towns reaffirm the compact.

Clark said the DHY working group had just discussed whether there would be a need to call special town meetings this fall so each town can confirm the partnership. The sense was the special legislation would not be approved in time for a fall town meeting. Last week’s approval caught them by surprise. Senator Julian Cyr has indicated the Senate has work on approval though it is not likely to reach the Governor’s desk until late fall.

“This situation is still fluid,” Clark said last Thursday about whether the DHY partnership will be ready for special town meeting votes this fall. He said the town could try to do the third phase funding for East Harwich sewering at the same time, “but it hinges on the Senate action. It’s more likely we’ll be leaving it for the annual town meeting.”

Selectmen on Monday night answered that question. The board unanimously approved a motion to not have a fall town meeting this year. Board members made it clear they have not yet held the necessary sessions to educate residents on the partnership.

There was also much discussion about the cost of the sewering project, which was projected to be 30 percent above the estimated cost for the East Harwich phase of the comprehensive wastewater management plan.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine said the first two contracts will address 400 of the 600 homes that are to be sewered in the second phase of the management plan. He said it could cost an additional $7 million to $9 million to address the additional 200 homes with a third contract.

“We’re about 30 percent higher than we expected,” Ballantine said.

Selectman Donald Howell said the original article for phase two design and construction approved $22,450,000 for the connection to Chatham and the construction. Officials made a commitment in town meeting that this will fully implement the phase two plan.

“It won’t. We knew we didn’t have enough money. It’s off by a big percentage,” Howell said. “This is a poster child for going to town meeting with bids. This 'trust us’ has got to stop. We have to go to town meeting

with bids.”

Selectmen are scheduled in their Sept. 9 meeting to act on the second contact bids and further discuss how they will address the need for a third contract for the East Harwich phase of the management plan.