ELLSWORTH, Maine — A plan to expand the marina at the city harbor has been delayed while city officials consult with engineers about the currents in the area where new boat slips would be located.
Councilors at this week’s regular meeting had been set to award a contract for the project, which includes construction of a waste pump-out station and a new float with five finger floats, but they tabled that decision after Councilor Stephen Beathem raised concerns about the location of the floats.
The project calls for the new floats to be located north of the existing gangway and floats, an area where Beathem said there is a strong current. He said the original plans for the project had located the new floats in the cove south of the existing floats, an area where there is little current. The location was changed because of boundary issues, according to city Finance Director Tammy Mote.
“The slips are located perpendicular to the current in an area where there are 5 to 7 knots of current at times,” he said.
City Manager Michelle Beal said the project had been developed through consultation with engineers who had studied river currents before siting the floats. Mayor John Phillips noted that the harbor committee had reviewed the project and said the general feeling was there would not be a problem.
Councilor John Moore, however, said the current in the river can be tricky.
“Just pulling up to the dock can be an adventure,” he said.
Beal suggested the city could talk with the engineers, the harbor committee and users of the harbor to see if there will be a problem.
“There are people already interested in those slips,” she said.
The council had been ready to accept the low bid on the project from J.P. Berzinis, who had submitted a bid of $177,030 for construction of the floats and pump-out station. They also had proposed a change to the contract, replacing yellow pine pilings with greenheart, which added $8,190 to the cost.
In response to concerns from councilors, contractor Jeff Berzinis said a delay of one month would not inconvenience him. Once the contract is awarded, he said, crews will build the floats during the winter months. Most of the work on the water will not be done until spring, he said.
The city plans to have the slips ready for use during next year’s boating season.
The project is part of a wider effort to expand the waterfront area, according to Mote. Although no specific plans have been formed, Mote said, the city has set aside funds to demolish the existing sewage treatment plant, which sits on city land adjacent to the harbor site, and to redevelop that property as part of the harbor park.
The marina project is funded through a $100,000 grant through the Maine Department of Transportation’s Small Harbor Improvement Program, or SHIP, and through a $35,000 grant for the pump-out station from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.