Chilmark selectmen agreed Tuesday to a timetable for the project to replace the new car-way and pedestrian walkway that was destroyed by the July 12 fire in Menemsha.
Executive secretary Tim Carroll told selectmen during their regular meeting that the bid specifications for the project are complete and will be published this week in the Central Registry, a newsletter that alerts contractors to all state, county, and municipal contracts being put out to bid.
According to the timetable, a pre-bid site meeting will take place at town hall on Tuesday, and the bids are due December 14. Selectmen will then meet just before Christmas to review bids and choose a contractor. A contract could be signed by January 3, with construction tentatively slated to begin on Jan. 13.
Pile driving for the project will take about three weeks, and workers are expected to be out of the water by March 3, Mr. Carroll said.
Mr. Carroll cited a letter from a marine biologist consulted by the state, raising the possibility that the project could interfere with winter flounder spawning season in Menemsha Creek. Mr. Carroll said the state has now asked the town to submit detailed information about winter flounder in the area.
Warren Doty, chairman of the selectmen, said the project does not involve dredging and therefore will not kick up any silt at the creek inlet that will disrupt the flounder. He also said there is no data indicating the flounder are in the region in January when construction is expected to begin.
“We have a lot of historical evidence that the flounder are not coming until the middle of April, at the very earliest,” he said.
Mr. Doty said he will meet this week with Dr. Elizabeth Fairchild, a leading marine biologist from the University of New Hampshire, to discuss the project and its possible impact on winter flounder.
Mr. Carroll said after the meeting that he didn’t expect any delays in the project stemming from the winter flounder season. “I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. We are still on track,” he said.
On a related topic, selectmen anticipated an update on the investigation into the cause of the Menemsha fire. But according to Mr. Carroll, there is nothing new to report. “I did talk to the chief of the Menemsha [Coast Guard] station, and he said it will be a few more weeks,” he said.
“We were told we would get a report in several weeks and that was several weeks ago,” Mr. Doty said.
Selectmen also reviewed a tentative schedule for the upcoming budget season.
Mr. Carroll said the personnel board is now reviewing a cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 2.3 percent for town employees. The figure was calculated using the Consumer Price Index figures from late September, although in previous years it was calculated using figures from November and December.
Selectman Frank Fenner said the timeframe for calculating the COLA over the past few years has been a moving target. He urged selectmen to pick a month and stick with it.
“It’s been bouncing around. They are trying to get it closer and closer. To me, it doesn’t make any difference because the [Consumer Price Index] is a rolling twelve-month average. So why bounce it around; I think its fair to the people to pick a timeframe,” Mr. Fenner said.
Selectmen will revisit the budget at their next meeting.