Aug 19, 2023
Cape Porpoise Pier project faces shortfall in Kennebunkport, Maine
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Voters will be asked in November to authorize selectmen to use up to $710,000 from the town’s capital reserve to close a funding gap related to the new estimated cost of
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Voters will be asked in November to authorize selectmen to use up to $710,000 from the town’s capital reserve to close a funding gap related to the new estimated cost of renovating the Cape Porpoise Pier.
The gap is a result of construction costs rising in the years since GEI Consultants and the town first estimated the price tag for the renovation back in 2018, according to Barney Baker, the lead engineer for the project. Supply-chain challenges and the slim availability of busy contractors also are factors.
Baker informed the Kennebunkport Select Board of the gap during its meeting on Aug. 24. Baker said he worked with the town years ago to create a budget for the project. GEI had just finished its renovation of Government Wharf in the community and scaled the cost of that project to arrive at a budget estimate for the improvement of the Cape Porpoise Pier.
Baker said GEI and the town had thought the budget for the project was in “good shape.” But that was before a certain global health crisis came along and turned the world upside-down.
“Unfortunately, COVID came, and the construction climate has changed,” Baker told the Select Board. “Reconstruction, in particular, has escalated faster.”
Baker said the pandemic’s impact on the project started coming into focus in 2022.
“We could see, basically, the impacts of COVID were starting to manifest themselves,” he said. “We started looking at increases coming in.”
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As a result, a project once estimated to cost $2.7 million in 2021 is now estimated to come in at around $4.5 million in 2024, according to Baker. That new amount includes a 15% contingency of $566,875.
The town’s current available funds for the project amount to around $3.4 million, thanks to $737,000 in town funds and roughly $2.7 million in grants from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation’s Small Harbor Improvement Program.
The new budget estimate created an initial shortfall of $1.1 million, but the town and GEI were able to trim that down to about $707,000 after deciding certain parts of the project could be pursued later – and perhaps with even new funding to boot.
These postponed parts, or “add alternated” items, include solar panels for the roof of the new bait shed, the south gangway and floats, and a new, fourth jib crane for the fishermen at the pier.
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In a memo, project voordinator Michael Claus said the Maine DOT would be supportive of these items if they’re pursued as part of a separate project in the future, and if the town would not have the needed funds in its budget.Town Manager Laurie Smith reminded the selectmen and the public that the figures discussed are currently only approximations.
“These are estimates, not bid prices,” Smith said. “We haven’t gone out to bid yet. We’re telling you what our potential shortfall will be.”
Selectman Jon Dykstra also reminded the public that the town had started the project on solid budgetary footing before it started getting “clobbered” by labor and supply-chain issues.
“It wasn’t a guess in the beginning,” Dykstra said. “We started with some hard numbers.”
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The project is expected to improve the pier’s structural integrity, resilience, and operations, Baker said.
The pier was last rehabilitated in either the late 1980s or early 1990s, though some improvements have been made along the way.
Baker described the pier as a congested and popular spot, where people go to enjoy the view of the ocean or a meal at a restaurant on site and where more than 50 fishermen work throughout a season.
Next up, the town hopes to get approval from the EDA and MDOT for the project in September. If voters approve that $710,000 during the election this fall, the town hopes to go out to bid for construction in January of 2024 and award that bid the next month. Reconstruction of the pier would start in either November or December of 2024.
The town only would be able to proceed with the project if voters approve the $710,000 to close the funding gap in November, Claus wrote in his memo.
Claus recommended to the selectmen that they put the requested sum on the November ballot, as construction would be pushed back to 2025 if they instead waited until the annual town meeting next June.The Little Mermaid of Maine:Route 99 top road for speeding:ViewPoint: