Lagoon Pond boat launch under construction
The long-awaited reconstruction of the Lagoon Pond launch ramp kicked off this week. On Monday workers from UEL Contractors of Fitchburg began removing pavement in preparation for rebuilding the parking lot, boat ramp and pier.
The reconstruction is scheduled to be completed by June 30. That is good news for boaters, who face only a temporary loss of one of the Island's most accessible public facilities at the start of the busy boating season.
"It's a project that had to be done, and it's good it's finally getting done," said Doug Cameron, assistant director of the state's public access board (PAB). "Once every 30 to 35 years, we have to do it and get it over with, and hopefully we won't have to inconvenience too many people."
At last, work to repair and improve the launch ramp, dock, and parking area on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven has begun. Photo by Ralph Stewart
The PAB recently awarded UEL Contractors a contract for $645,990. The company has previous experience with Island projects, having built Tisbury's salt shed and sewer collection system.
"The price came in consistent with what we thought." said Jack Sheppard, public access board director. "It's expensive to work on the Vineyard. It seems to be running almost double, to work on the Island. If we were doing the job on the Cape, I would have estimated it below $400,000. But towns on the Island are just as entitled as others in the state. There are so few places for people to have moorings today, boat ramps are becoming and more important to folks."
The parking lot will be rebuilt first to add drainage improvements and a protective stone bulkhead around it. Next, a floating siltation boom will be placed around the entire boat ramp and parking area to contain sediment and keep it from disturbing sensitive areas of the Lagoon.
To construct the boat ramp, a dam will be built around the area and the water pumped out so the concrete can be poured in dry conditions.
The boat ramp will be about the same size as the old one but will extend farther out into the water and sit over concrete, eliminating possible prop wash damage, Mr. Sheppard explained. A new L-shaped pier will be longer than the old one, with a small pier with a float system added as well.
In the meantime, with the Lagoon Pond project in the works, the worsening deterioration of the Lake Street ramp prompted town administrator John Bugbee to request funds for its repair from the PAB a few weeks ago. "The ramp in its current condition won't make it through an entire season, especially with the heavier use with the closing of the Lagoon Pond boat launch," Mr. Bugbee explained.
Mr. Cameron and Mr. Sheppard visited the Island, shortly after Mr. Bugbee's call, to inspect the ramp with him and Tisbury harbormaster Jay Wilbur.
"We were expecting to find a much worse problem than we found, but it looks worse than it is. It's not a major repair, but it needs to be done right away," Mr. Sheppard said.
He explained that water washed away the base underneath the concrete ramp, causing it to collapse. Fortunately, much of the collapsed section is above the water line, making its removal and repair less difficult.
Following his inspection, Mr. Sheppard authorized the town to get the repairs done, with reimbursement from the state. Since UEL already would be on the Island for the Lagoon Pond project, the town contracted the company to repair the Lake Street ramp as well.
Mr. Wilbur expects the ramp repairs to take only a few days and be completed by next week, which is good news for boaters, since the Lake Street ramp is one of their few alternatives while the Lagoon Pond facility is closed.
After being on the public access board's books for almost eight years, the Lagoon Pond project was funded in the state legislature's 2005 budget as a $500,000 earmark.
When a bid for proposals went out last spring, the winning low bid came in at $130,000 more than the earmarked funds and the public access board had to come up with the balance. Delays in the bid process and a mix-up in the transfer of state funds led to two construction postponements last year.