City Council awards bid to Delong Marine to rebuild Thompson's Wharf

By Ben Holbrook | Mar 11, 2014

Belfast — Belfast officials awarded a bid for the reconstruction of Thompson's Wharf to Delong Marine Services, despite a recent vote by the Harbor Advisory Committee recommending the Planning Board reject city's application.

Members of the Harbor Advisory Committee raised concerns about the project during a meeting Feb. 19. At that time, the concerns centered mainly on the width of the channel near Thompson's Wharf and how expanding the facility could create problems for boats trying to navigate in the inner harbor.

The proposed rebuild would would push the wharf out to the channel buffer and effectively double the amount of slip space from the existing 400 linear feet to 800 linear feet. It would also add four new slips and would deepen the existing slips, according to previously published reports.

Harbor Advisory Committee Chair Jim Black stated the proposed plan would reduce the width of the channel from 75 feet to 65 feet.

However, during the council meeting Tuesday, March 4, Harbormaster Kathy Pickering said the city's engineering firm Gartley and Dorsky determined a channel width of 75 feet was still possible, even with a 25 foot buffer zone.

Pickering continued by saying the Harbor Advisory Committee met Monday, March 3, to hold a workshop to further discuss the project, but did not take any action. She said the project needs to move forward because she wants the work completed by June 1 before the start of the busy summer season.

City Manager Joseph Slocum indicated that he believed the majority of the Harbor Advisory Committee would support recommending the permit be issued for the project following the workshop session.

He said the committee is scheduled to meet again  Wednesday, March 19, to hold a public hearing and vote on the proposed rebuild. Following that meeting, the Planning Board will vote on whether they will issue a permit on Wednesday, March 26. Hopefully, Slocum said, the Planning Board will issue the permit on that date; however, he expressed concern that the project could be completed by the beginning of June.

Councilor Roger Lee recommended the project move forward and said it may end up that the work isn't completed by the fall. Pickering responded that work cannot occur during the months of July and August due to the amount of activity in the harbor. She said it would be too difficult to have a barge floating in the inner harbor driving pilings while a business such as Front Street Shipyard is trying to move vessels around.

If the work cannot be completed by June, Pickering said she would have a “hard time” opening Thompson's Wharf for the summer. In that case, she said people who rented slips at the facility would have to make other accommodations.

As discussion continued, City Planner Wayne Marshall suggested the council could jump start the project by authorizing Delong Marine Services to begin construction of the floats for the existing facility. Once the city receives the necessary permits, Delong could then be authorized to complete the rest of the work.

Before voting, Councilor Mike Hurley expressed his frustration with the delay in the project being able to start.

“This thing bugs me the way it was handled,” he said.

Councilors unanimously approved accepting the low bid to Delong Marine Services in the amount of $163,689.

Because councilors only voted to move forward on a portion of the work to rebuild Thompson's Wharf Tuesday, March 4, officials met again to award the bid to Delong and to authorize Slocum to order all of the materials needed to rebuild the facility.

Slocum explained to councilors he spoke with Mike Delong who recommended the city order the materials all at once to avoid any further delays with completing the project. Slocum said Delong will build all of the floats prior to driving any of the pilings.

Councilors voted 4-0 to with Councilor Roger Lee absent to award the bid and allow Slocum to order the necessary materials for the project.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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