City councilors approved a request to go out to bid to replace broken fuel lines for the harbor gas pumps at their Tuesday, Feb. 5, meeting.

Harbormaster Kathy Pickering said the fuel lines have been broken for several years since restoration work was done on the wharf. In order to catch any leaking fuel, the city installed a sump pump, which needs repairs that could cost about $17,000.

The fuel-line replacement work would be completed in the spring before the busy summer months.

Pickering noted that repairing the sump pump would not guarantee that it wouldn’t leak again in the future and require more work. Councilor Roger Lee questioned whether the scope of work required to replace the underground fuel lines would warrant looking at replacing the existing fuel tank, as well.

The existing tank holds 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel and 2,500 gallons of gasoline, Pickering said. She said that capacity is adequate, because the agreement the city has with its fuel service allows for deliveries to be made on a daily basis, if necessary. However, she acknowledged that a larger tank could be required in the future if a supplier is unable to make daily deliveries.

Mayor Walter Ash Jr. agreed that a larger tank might be warranted, noting that fuel companies don’t always like to make smaller deliveries unless a premium price is paid. Councilor Mike Hurley asked if Front Street Shipyard would have any interest in adding fuel sales to its business.

Lee quickly pointed out that Front Street Shipyard President J.B. Turner has said the company is not interested in providing fuel services. Pickering said acquiring the proper permits and installing the equipment is expensive.

Hurley then asked whether, if a new tank is installed, it would be able to go in the same place as the existing tank. Pickering said it’s possible the tank could go in the same place or close by. She said it would also be possible to put in a tank that is higher to increase capacity.

Funds to replace the broken fuel lines, once a bid is finalized, will be transferred from existing reserve accounts.

Councilors unanimously approved the request to send the project out to bid.

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