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HomeNewsArchivesOfficials Hopeful on Frederiksted Pier, Fishermen, Contractors Not So Sure

Officials Hopeful on Frederiksted Pier, Fishermen, Contractors Not So Sure

March 31, 2005 — Officials seem confident that the problems at the Frederiksted fisherman's pier and boat access ramp will soon be rectified. Several local contractors interested in submitting a bid to complete the project gathered at the site on Tuesday to get a first hand look at the problems. The contractors however, had different opinions on whether the project could be finished where it had left off – or if the whole thing needed to torn up and started from scratch.
"The way the plans are designed you don't have the depth of the water," Carlos Zennon of Zennon Construction said. "The ramp has to be removed and put in right."
Gustave James of Systems Engineering agreed. "The ramp has to have correct sloping and pitch relative to the high water," he said. James explained that in order not to damage boats they have to remain afloat while being loaded onto the trailers. He said a poorly designed ramp can also harm the vehicle pulling the boat trailer out of the water. Fishermen need to be able to pull up their boats, "without putting their trucks into the water," James said.
The men were part of a group who gathered at the Frederiksted fisherman's pier and boat ramp Tuesday morning for a pre-contract conference to get a first hand look at the scope of work needed to complete repairs on the Frederiksted fisherman's pier and boat access ramp.
Horace Graham and Aaron Fleming, Public Works Department representatives, walked the contractors through the work that needs to be completed. Requests for Proposals are being sought from companies who feel they have the expertise to complete the boat ramps and pier. The deadline for contractors to submit bids is 4 p.m April 7. Public Works officials said processing the bids would take approximately two weeks after which a notice to proceed will be issued to the successful company. The company will then have 10 days to begin the work and 30 days to complete.
Two other contractors who were present were more optimistic. "We can do it," Gary Charney of Coastal Systems Development Inc., (CSDI) said. "We are going to build it to the plans and specifications." Carney had just one concern – the availability of materials. "We will buy on-island what we can. The workforce is in place." CSDI is presently completing the Frederiksted Economic Revitalization Project.
Francis Romain of FR Maintenance and Construction said he was confident his company could do the job. "We can finish it up so it can be operational," Romain said.
Cape and Associates won the last bid on the project – in October 1999. In November 2004, the Property and Procurement Department terminated that contract because Cape and Associates could not finish the repairs. Companies presently bidding on the work have been directed to utilize the plans and specifications previously submitted by Cape and Associates. Those plans were approved by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources and "stamped off" by Public Works, Fleming said.
Public Works has committed to work "in partnership" with the company chosen to do the work. "We don't want any more problems," Fleming said. "We want to make sure the process is done right."
Problems are all the pier and boat ramp reconstruction seem to have. The structure was first damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and suffered more damage from later hurricanes and tropical storms. The facility has been closed since December 2002. Deadlines to complete the work were set several times, but the Frederiksted boating public is still waiting for its completion. Earlier in March, senators tried to get to the heart of the issue. (See "Fishermen and Senators Vent Frustration at Lack of Action").
Toby Tobias, biologist with DPNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife, whose office has the responsibility to prepare grants for boat access facilities through the Interior Department, is hopeful that the work will be completed in the time allotted in the contract. "I am hopeful that the work will be done in time," Tobias said. "I'm optimistic."
But Robert McAuliffe, president of the fisherman's cooperative, was not happy with the developments or the remarks of the contractors. "I'm less than optimistic. It's going to be delayed again," McAuliffe said. "The government is trying to cut too many corners. To do the ramps right, you have to take them out completely. We are no closer now than we were months ago."

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