City officials reported at the Belfast City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 1, that a drainage issue on Front Street could add $40,000 in unanticipated costs to the Harbor Walk Project.

Wayne Marshall, city planner, said that an old concrete railroad culvert, located at the corner of the Front Street Pub, doesn’t appear to have an outlet, which is causing problems with drainage.

After running a camera into the culvert, officials discovered a blockage about 90 feet into the pipe.

“All we found were a couple of empty beer bottles and it appears to stop somewhere under Belfast Boatworks,” Marshall told councilors. “There is no outlet that is apparent. We’re looking at what we need to do to change out this culvert.”

Mayor Walter Ash Jr., said the reason why the culvert was blocked was due to a barge that was intentionally sunk in that area.

“I was there when they did it. That water is probably draining into the barge and that’s why you can’t find the outlet,” Ash said.

Addressing the blocked culvert and other drainage issues along Front Street in the area of Three Tides, Marshall’s Wharf Brewery and Penobscot Tug are paramount to the success of the Harbor Walk Project, according to a memo to Marshall from Olver Associates engineers.

“The existing pipe will eventually fail to work as an outlet due to its poor condition,” the memo says. “With plans to install a walkway in this area almost ready for construction, replacement of this pipe to prevent future disturbance of the new walkway is the prudent course of action.”

Property owners have raised concerns about runoff flowing down Front Street toward their buildings, according to the memo. Marshall said the best option for the city is to install catch basins near Marshall’s Wharf and run new culvert pipe past Front Street and outlet into Thompson’s Wharf. The city would remain within its right-of-way and the city wouldn’t need to worry about building around the crib work in the bulkhead, said Marshall.

Olver Associates stated in the memo to Marshall the cost of the work would be about $75,000. It determined that price by assuming no contaminated soil would be encountered, the City owned all the land, which wouldn’t require surveys or easements and that the project was put out to bid to general contractors.

“We did a preliminary cost estimate for catch basin install costs and culvert line, which would be about $75,000. That’s if we hire a contractor, but if Public Works does it, it could be done for about $40,000,” Marshall said.

City Manager Joseph Slocum noted the drainage issue is a necessary project and being able to do the work with Public Works results in significant savings for the city.

Since the drainage work represents an unanticipated cost to the city, Marshall told councilors the money would become part of the unfunded share for the Harbor Walk project. He also noted the money would be spent immediately but the $40,000 could be repaid at a later date through whatever bond package the city puts together.

City Councilors unanimously approved the expenditure 4-0 with Councilor Michael Hurley absent.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or