Harpswell seeks bids for Mitchell Field pier demolition

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HARPSWELL — The town is accepting bids from contractors to demolish the old U.S. Navy Pier on Mitchell Field.

Selectman approved an extensive and detailed request for proposals Sept. 28 for what the engineer called “a landmark project for the town,” given the scale, cost, and implications the project has for the field.

A non-mandatory pre-bid meeting will be held for contractors at the project site on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. Bids must be submitted by Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.

The pier, a holdover from when the Navy used the field as a fuel depot, has been deteriorating for years and presents a safety hazard to boats and recreational users of the area.

It also blocks further development of the property’s expansive shorefront, which includes a recreational beach. The Mitchell Field committee has proposed installing a seasonal ramp and float system to replace the massive Navy structure after it comes down.

Engineer Barney Baker said magnitude of the demolition is likely to attract bids from the state’s largest marine contractors; based on that pool, “if we got four bids I’d be very pleased,” he said.

The RFP requires proposals to follow guidelines and restrictions intended to reduce impact on the popular recreational area.

Those were created by the Mitchell Field Committee, in conjunction with Baker and staff who drafted the RFP. They held two summer workshops gather the public’s concerns about noise, safety, and traffic.

Town Meeting budgeted $5 million for the project last March.

While contractors are able to exercise some discretion over how they would complete the job at that cost, Baker has spent the last year drafting a plan for how the demolition will likely take place.

That plan, set to take place over two years and be completed by spring 2019, proposes using an upland portion of the field to crush and store material removed by divers.

“We do have an alternate in the project for barging,” or transporting the material to a different offshore location, Baker said. That option would reduce impact on the field, but Baker said it is likely cost-prohibitive.

Should a contractor devise a way to barge materials within budget, the RFP requires the contract to specify the location.

Selectmen are not required to select the lowest bid, and Baker used the barge alternative option as an example of a proposal that that might convince selectmen to go with a costlier bid, if it reduces impact on the field and those who live nearby.

“That’s the sort of item that I think will have people stand up and listen” when selecting the contractor, Baker said.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

The pier at Mitchell Field in Harpswell, built in the 1950s to pipe fuel to Brunswick Naval Air Station, is rapidly deteriorating and on the brink of collapse. The town is seeking bids for its demolition through Nov. 7.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.