EASTHAM — The plan for a new harbormaster’s office and site improvements at Rock Harbor is scheduled to begin the permitting process next month, with hearings set for April 13 before the conservation commission and April 21 with the planning board.
Though $1.3 million in funding was approved at the May 2018 town meeting, progress on the project has been choppy, as abutter objections to a plan presented last September caused the Rock Harbor improvements committee (a subcommittee of the capital projects committee) to pause before moving forward with the project until they could come up with a design more palatable to neighborhood residents.
That effort resulted in the approval of new plans in January that relocated the site for the office from the waterside to an area north of the parking area, reduced the height and size of the building, and eliminated much of the walkways and decks in the earlier design.
“Are the neighbors now OK?” asked select board member Art Autorino at the Rock Harbor improvements committee’s March 15 meeting.
“I don’t think that they’re OK in the sense that they’re happy, but I think they like the new location,” replied committee member Jacqui Beebe, Eastham’s town administrator.
The plan now includes a shed-like building of approximately 560 square feet, which includes a 55-square-foot reception area just inside the entrance, an open office area, a restroom for employees, and a south-facing deck.
“That vestibule will have access to somebody behind a desk that [the public] can correspond with, get any paperwork, do any signing of permits — anything that’s needed like that,” said Liz Ranieri, a design principal at Kuth Ranieri Architects.
Stairs and a ramp on the east side of the building provide access to the office. A hydration and rinse station for public use are situated in the open area below the structure.
The extensive decks and walkways proposed on the initial plan have been replaced with crushed shell pathways.
While the project seeks regulatory approvals, the designers and the capital projects committee will be looking to reduce estimated costs after receiving a $1,678,938 construction estimate from Kuth Ranieri.
“We had some concerns about elements they put in and elements that were not in, that we know are expensive,” said Beebe.
One item left out of the estimate was knotweed removal, which can cost around $100,000, she added.
Beebe said on Tuesday that they were trying to trim about $300,000 from the budget to cover knotweed removal and other contingencies and “we just think there are extras that can and should be cut,” she wrote.
“We don’t want to contribute more than $750,000 of our dollars that we have to this project,” Beebe said at the March 15 meeting. “We have a match with the grant. If we contribute $750,000 and the state contributes $750,000, that sets the budget a $1.5 [million] maximum.”
She suggested removing landscaping, which includes drainage and paving, from the construction contract. “Anytime we go out to bid, the contractor will add a premium cost to manage that,” she said. “They will most likely be subcontracting both of those things.”
The town is already working with pavers through the water contracts, Beebe added. Paving could be added to one of those contracts, “and I’m sure they would give us a better price than going out as a separate item.”
Shana Brogan, Eastham’s projects and procurement director, and other town staff were “more than capable of managing” a contractor hired for landscape and site improvements, Beebe said.