Town Begins Fining Fish Pier Deck Contractor

By: Tim Wood

A pair of seagulls watch over construction workers at the Chatham Fish Pier Tuesday. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTOS

CHATHAM – The town has begun fining the contractor of the fish pier deck project $500 a day.

Sciaba Construction Corporation was put on notice that the town would be seeking “liquidated damage”—the term in the contract for fines—beginning Oct. 17, the day after the latest deadline for completion of the $1.4 million deck project.

As of late last week, a new completion date has yet to be set, according to Director of Health and Natural Resources Robert Duncanson.

Town Manager Jill Goldsmith said the quality of the work on the deck continues to be good; the slow pace of progress continues to be the problem.

The project has been underway, officially, since Feb. 26, a total of 255 days, 213 of which were “working days,” according to a report by Foth Engineering, hired by the town to monitor the project.

According to the Nov. 7 report, installation of new cranes, replacement of fuel tanks and lines and columns in the fish packing building are 100 percent completed. Completion of the remainder of the project ranges from 50 percent (the observation deck itself) to 1 percent (an expanded fire suppression system). There has only been 12 percent progress on installation of the vertical platform lift.

Duncanson said there is a performance bond in place that could be used to hire a company to finish the project should Sciaba be found in default. That has not yet happened, he added.

Calls to Sciaba's Walpole office were not returned.

Originally scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day, the project has been plagued by slow progress, a lack of workers on site, change orders and poor weather conditions. During the summer, the ongoing work caused a nightmare for tourists seeking to visit one of the town's most popular attractions as well as officials and fishermen trying to maintain operations at the commercial fish offloading facility. The town had a detail police officer on site all summer to keep tourists away from the work areas; most ended up crowding around the north jog to try to get glimpses of seals in the water and fishing boats offloading their catch.